'Okay, do you two have any idea what this match means?' Herah asked Owen and Max, a shiver running through her as hard rain pelted her scaleless, naked body.
The youngling was still in the center of the crater that had formed in the wake of her rebirth, Écarlate held tightly to her chest and Jeffery still floating over her protectively.
'No.' Owen thought back.
'Sorry Herah, I have no idea.' Max added.
Herah's eyes shifted uneasily as they went from Moon to Moon, wary of any movement the numerous bodies that surrounded her made or might make.
'If that's the case, could you two please try to figure it out or think of something else while I stall as long as I can.'
With twin words of affirmation, Herah disconnected her link from the pair and put the still burning match Alex gave her into the mouth of Écarlate, the baby having been making whining sounds for food.
"That's a beautiful child you have there." Moon said, causing Herah to turn towards the body that was speaking, this one looking down on her with a pained expression, "I'm assuming they're yours?"
Herah looked down at Écarlate, the child looking back up at her with a giggle while reaching up to one of her uncovered teats, attempting to bring it to their mouth.
"They're me." Herah said, her eyes narrowing into glare and her nose twitching as her attention returned to Moon.
Moon seemed visibly surprised by this response, but instead of questioning Herah on it the priest said,
"I wished that I could say that your child is in no danger from me, but-"
"You'll do whatever you have to ensure your victory, I know," Herah said, sounding both understanding and furious at the same time.
"Happy that we understand each other on that point. At least-"
Fire suddenly spewed from Herah's mouth and nose, quickly igniting both herself and her newly born child before Écarlate inhaled all the fire and let out a happy burp.
"Don't try that pollen shit no more Moon." Herah snarled out, smoke shooting from her nostrils at the end of her sentence.
"How did you know?"
Herah let another snort of smoke leave her, Écarlate quickly inhaling their mother's smoke before letting out a whine that caused Herah to briefly direct her attention to Écarlate and put the child to her breast. With Écarlate now pacified, Herah returned her focus to the speaking Moon.
"Your pollen might be smaller than certain cells but it's not small enough to hide from my view," Herah quickly added, "If I'm looking for it at least."
"I'm assuming that that was also how you figured out I was alive." The talking Moon said before asking, "When did you discover my survival?"
"While we were planning out our defense, Owen sneezed and muttered about how he hated pollen because it aggravated his allergies. A quick check later and I found some weird ass pollen covering everyone except for myself." Herah pointed towards the speaking Moon while still holding Écarlate to her chest, "I naturally assumed it to be yours and after a bit of thought figured that you used that bench you threw into the hole you had dug through the cathedral floor to reform your body."
"You are correct," Moon responded, before saying, "I know you're stalling for time by the way."
Herah brought her extended hand back to rub her nose as her nostrils flared and more smoke shot from them.
"Then why are you allowing me to do exac-"
Herah barely managed to leap back and out of the way of a black drill that burrowed from beneath her original position. Just as the Moon completely emerged from the ground, Jeffery erased them in their entirety.
Before any other moves could be made by either side, Herah found herself getting an abrupt warning from Max.
'Find or make cover for yourself NOW!'
Herah didn't even hesitate, quickly crouching down to the ground, wrapping herself and Écarlate up in her wings, and covering her head with her left arm while Jeffery began spinning over her head. A second later, Herah found it pretty easy to figure out just exactly why Max told her to cover herself.
Herah let out a slightly startled grunt as a flood of flaming metal (all of them of varying shapes and sizes) began scraping against and bouncing off of her wings and exposed arm, this being a small percentage of what came down towards her since Jeffery deflected everything else. All around her immediate area, Herah could hear this metal burying into the ground and striking other metal that had already landed. Where the Moon's had been situated, Herah could hear flesh being pierced and pounded.
'Max! Where are all these, I'm presuming at least, weapons coming from!?'
Herah felt a small sense of confusion come over her.
'Why were they in space?'
Herah shrugged, before focusing her attention on what sounded like arrows cutting through the air.
'Did any of the Oni in the south company have exploding arrows?'
Herah could only groan as her wings tightened around her in preparation.
Herah let out another grunt of annoyance as sharpnel and explosions were added to things that were now pelting her.
'How many weapons did you put in space?' Herah asked her annoyance rising as the assault seemed endless.
'I multiplied everything seven times,' Max said, sounding just a bit apologetic, 'You're gonna be dealing with that for a while.'
Herah could only groan and hunker down even further under Max's relentless assault.
"How long has this been going on?"
"Only a minute, are you sure?"
"True enough. Should I uncover us now?"
"Thanks for the talk Petit Moi, I think I'm gonna really like you."
Herah unwrapped herself and Écarlate, a completely changed battlefield appearing before her. Numerous smaller craters now filled the giant one that Herah stood within with a literal army worth of destroyed weapons everywhere her eyes went. The population of Moons had also thinned out remarkably with Herah finding that their number seemed to have effectively halved.
'Of course there are still over 400 Moons remaining, so I'm now just slightly less fucked.'
'Herah!' Owen suddenly called out to the youngling, 'I have an idea for what you can do with your kid!'
'There name is Écarlate.' Herah responded pointedly before quickly asking, 'How?'
'Throw them into your backpack, since it works as a portal to your room Écarlate should be safe.'
'Good idea! Thanks Owen!'
Herah quickly swung her backpack off her back, but a Moon suddenly appearing before her with his left arm reared back and in the form of a large butcher knife put her on the defensive.
Herah was forced to drop her bag, just barely ducking under the attack before Jeffery could erase Moon's head. Using the brief stun to her advantage, Herah instantly entered Renaissance à son Sommet and set Moon alit with a single breath of orange fire from her crouched position.
Flipping and drop-kicking the rapidly burning corpse away, Herah used it as a springboard to land atop of Jeffery's very center.
Jeffery did exactly that, spinning like before just in time to bisect the eight Moons that had appeared to attack Herah. Though this did little to actually impede her attackers, with each Moon just swinging at Herah with newly morphed limbs. Herah had a simple response to this.
Herah's cheeks quickly puffed up before the youngling began exhaling exponential amounts of orange fire that wrapped around her form for a brief instance before violently exploding outwards and engulfing everything within a three-meter sphere of Herah. This left Herah's eight assailants as burning, bisected corpses.
Herah hopped off of Jeffery and picked up her backpack by the zipper, the bag quickly coming open as thirty more Moons appeared with all but one coming from Herah's sides while the one not on the ground fell from the sky with their left hand now massive and open to engulf the youngling.
Jeffery made short work of the 29 ground Moons while Herah gave the giant hand grabbing at her a yellow fireball twice its size to hold onto. Nothing was left remaining of the nine ground Moon's while the one in the air fell to the ground dying from fire.
With her backpack now open, Herah gave Écarlate a happy smile before dropping the baby into it.
Three seconds had passed since Owen had told Herah his idea.
Orange was meditating atop Herah's bed, his legs crossed and his eyes closed as his focus was on that of the flame within his chest. The flame burnt strongly and was violet, filling Orange with a sense of peace and calm that helped him think clearly and without problem.
'This is worrisome. Iesha says that Time is getting frantic and worried about the continued attacks, Adam and Eve are both saying that End is getting prepared for something big, and Gina has gone dark ever since herself and Jerry took their trip to the Abyss. This only compounds upon God's recent "death" and Death's passing of their role onto that new horsemen. I'm gonna have to get back to work soon it seems.'
Orange let out a sigh before opening his eyes and running them across his daughter's room
'But first I need you to survive this Herah. Because only then could I truly hope to- Why did time just speed up universely?'
Orange's scalely arms opened up to catch the newborn that fell from out of nowhere. Looking down at the tiny creature, Orange tilted his head to the side, studying them closely for a few moments before realizing who and what they were.
"Why hello there étincelle." Orange said to the baby with a fatherly grin, "It seems as if I have some new family." Orange's grin morphed into a slightly troubled expression, "I hope whatever new blood has been introduced to you doesn't clash too heavily with our own."
Orange softly blew three rings of violet flames that were eagerly inhaled by the child in his arms before softly saying,
"Through the act of Ash va s'installer, I recognize you as my grandchild and happily welcome you to my family."
"Oh you're just adorable." Orange said to the baby, before raising one of his newly elongated talons to his mouth. Pricking his tongue lightly and making sure that blood stained his claw before setting the tip alight with a flame as red as the blood that it covered. Bringing his bloody claw down to the newborn's forehead, Orange scrawled a rune of Parole de le Brûlant.
"La flamme doit protéger."
The rune spontaneously caught fire, before just as spontaneously burning away.
"Hopefully I get to see you again, next time in the arms of your mother."
Orange blinked and the baby was gone.
"Rester en sécurité." Orange sighed and rubbed the back of his head, "Now a new dilemma is how to tell Rouge about her new grandparent status."
Orange's hand shot up and easily caught the unhinged door flying towards him, another sigh leaving him at the appearance of his wife.
"I'M A FUCKING WHAT!?" Rouge shouted as indigo fire began to pour from her mouth, nose, eyes, and ears.
Orange dropped Herah's door onto the floor before turning to Rouge and giving her a simple reply as a grin came to his face.
"Well, now you don't have to worry about Herah not having a kid before death." Orange made a quick tilt of his head while also making a tsk sound, "Kinda.
Zipping up her backpack and throwing it onto her back, Herah surrounded herself in a shroud of blue flames before thirty Moons appeared around her. Before even a thousandth of a second could past, all but three of the Moon's was eradicated by Jeffery. Grabbing Jeffery from above her by their tip, Herah split the Moon coming from her front in half with a single downward swing. The youngling then hopped over a leg sweep before spinning and kicking the offending Moon's head, said head exploding at the force of Herah's strike. The final Moon had been coming at her at the same time, so Herah was forced to use Jeffery to block his punch.
The sound barrier broke as Herah was launched into the sky, dirt and ash following her in her sudden flight. Herah righted herself in the air and got a good look at the few dozen Moons jumping after her.
'Okay,' Herah thought while touching her amulet, 'Now that Écarlate is out of the way-'
Herah's nose wrinkled as a sudden scent hit it, the rapidly approaching Moons forgotten as her attention went eight kilometers to her right while her ears picked up a noise that filled her with dread.
"MY KID!" Herah shouted, her eyes widening and a wave of fear and worry filling her at the sight and sound of Écarlate falling from the sky. Without a second thought, Herah unfurled both of her wings and flapped them once.
Before any of the Moons could reach Herah, they were all forced away by sonic boom that was created when the youngling suddenly rocketed to the right.
'What's happened Herah?' Max asked, her own worry only making Herah's worst.
Out of the corner of Herah's eye, one of Moon's bodies began zooming towards Écarlate from a much closer distance than herself. Herah let out a growl before giving a single mental command to Jeffery.
The Moon's head exploded as Jeffery fired through it, leaving Herah free to catch and gently hold Écarlate to her chest.
"WAAHH!" Écarlate shouted happily before giggling with a smile on their face, causing Herah to softly pet her child, feeling a bit surprised by the newborn's sudden lack of hunger.
Herah paused in her flight to hover over the forest and look down on it.
The entire landscape had been affected by Max's attack from earlier, with only small pockets of greenery remaining across Herah's and Moon's battlefield. The rest of the land was scarred with a diverse range of craters of varying shapes and sizes. Smoke also billowed up from the many,many fires that dotted the land, though they wouldn't last long under the constant rain.
'Écarlate is back.' Herah told Max and Owen.
'How?' Owen asked.
"You can thank me for that."
Norwe the Sloth appeared floating a few inches in front of Herah with a lazy wave of one of their claws.
"I didn't expect that baby of yours at all," The Maker Sloth said with no little amount of surprise, " And I'm definitely not letting something as entertaining as a defenseless kid ou-"
Herah, rage washing out any other feelings within her, grabbed the Maker Sloth by there head and brought their throat to her mouth before tearing into it. A wet gurgle and spray of blood filled the air as Écarlate giggled within Herah's grasp. Herah then commanded Jeffery to completely erase Norwe the Sloth's body, before turning her head to the sky and letting out a roar that filled the air.
A pillar of blue flames erupted from Herah's mouth, nose, eyes, and ears turning the sky a light and vibrant blue before disappearing into the clouds.
'Herah, what was that?' Owen asked, most definitely having heard the shout and seen the light show.
'A shout of rage and an attack.'
With those words, hundreds upon hundreds boulder sized balls of blue flames began raining down and through the clouds. Herah watched as her attack took out the last remnants of green across anything within a 4-kilometer radius and increased the size of any craters that they struck.
'It was also a potentialy deadly mistake.'
With that thought, Herah's shroud dissipated and her body began to fall from the sky after exiting Renaissance à son Sommet. Taking a split half seconds to check herself, Herah found her inner flame burning much weaker than before.
'What do you mean a mistake Herah?!' Max shouted worriedly over their link.
'I've exhausted Renaissance à son Sommet with that last little roar of mines.' Herah responded feeling tired though still holding a giggling Ècarlate close to her chest, with Jeffery catching Herah by the stomach before they could fall too far.
'Why would you do that!?' Max mentally shouted at Herah.
'Because I wasn't thinking my actions through and now I've nearly fucked myself.' Herah thought back tiredly, while raising her head to see multiple Moons jumping up at her.
'What about Jeffery? Can't they help you?' Max asked, causing Herah to let out a mental sigh.
'No. What I just did was essentially set my own trap.' Herah took a deep breath and fired off a large ball of red flames that engulfed and killed all the Moons jumping at her.
Ten more soon replaced them.
'But doesn't Jeffery care about you?!' Max thought back sounding even more worried then earlier.
'Of course they do, but unless its impossible for me to get out of this on my own, I'm getting no help from them.' Herah thought back firing off another ball of flames that managed to exterminate the group of Moon's coming at her.
'Let me try something- Dammit! Norwe's blocking me again!' Max shouted now sounding furious.
'Calm down Max, I got two backups.' Herah thought back, adjusting her position atop of Jeffery to be standing. Maintaining a shaky balance, Herah watched as more Moons jumped up towards her, this time coming from multiple directions.
'Why-' Max somehow mentally sputtered, 'Why didn't you say that before?! Owen and I was worried sick!"
'Actually,' Owen cut in, 'I figured Herah had something since earlier she-
Herah let out a mental growl, before quickly soothing Ècarlate who had began to cry at the sound made by their mother.
'I mean her words earlier were talking about how it potentially ended badly for her.'
'Why did you wait so long to let me know?'
'I was busy thinking of what we're going to do with Ècarlate now that they're back.'
'Put that thought on hold for a second,' Herah thought, 'I need to initiate one of my backups. Herah out!'
Just as Herah left the mental link, four Moons reached her; one with both of their arms morphed into tendrils, another with their body covered in spikes, one other with curved blades emerging from their arms, and the final with with their hands as massive claws. The Moon with tendril arms wrapped one around Jeffery before swinging themselves atop the pencil and attempting to wrap their other tendril around her neck. Just as the tendril was an inch away from Herah's neck, one of the last of Herah's red tattoo hands emerged from her face and caught it.
Herah, Ècarlate, and all the surrounding Moons were engulfed in a fiery explosion that incinerated everything not Jeffery or Cendruex. Before the fire could dissipate, Herah inhaled the flames. Feeling rejuvenated, Herah let a smirk come to her before looking down to Ècarlate and tickling their chin. This caused for the giggling baby to burp out a single ring of violet fire that the new mother inhaled.
"Thank you Petit Moi." Herah said to her child, feeling completely refilled, "I'm lucky dad, by the taste of it, gave you more fire than you needed.
Ècarlate just let out a cheery giggle and smiled widely at Herah. Herah smile back and reached up to her amulet.
'Any new ideas about our current predicament?'
'You could always physically bring the kid to us.' Max answered not sounding too sure of the idea herself.
'That wouldn't work.' Herah responded shaking her head while reentering Renaissance à son Somme, 'Ècarlate might react negatively to you two since you're not familiar. And since I would have to bring them to you myself, Moon could easily follow.' Herah paused for a moment, 'While only one can make it to the clearing at any given time thanks to that fib you told yesterday, one Moon near you is still dangerous.'
'Dammit! Owen do you have any ideas?'
'Sorry nothing is coming to mind.'
Herah found her attention suddenly caught by the sight of a group of nine Moons jumping towards her, once again in a single clumped up group.
'I gotta go, why don't you guys stop thinking about Ècarlate's safety and instead come up with someway to take out Moon. Even with this many bodies under his control, I'm pretty sure there is at least one body nowhere close to us. We need some way to take them out in a single fell swoop that Norwe will allow.'
'Are you sure Herah?' Max asked, emotions of worry and uncertainty flowing through her emotional connection with Herah.
'Yeah, I'll just find some way to get Ècarlate to cover on my own. Herah out.'
Herah then took a quick breath before firing a ball of orange flames towards the encroaching Moons. But instead of the ball of fire engulfing them and that being the end of it, six Moons covered in the organic armor from his last fight with Herah shot through the flames. Herah covered herself in another shroud of fire before hopping back towards Jeffery's eraser and hooking a foot under it. Tilting the pencil's head downward, Herah took her foot from beneath Jeffery's eraser and used it to kick her creation straight through the head of one of the armored Moons.
'Gotcha!' Herah thought, noticing the collective faltering of all six Moons before launching herself towards them with a sonic boom while calling Jeffery back through the head of another one of them. With the extended paralysis, Herah was able to grab Jeffery with her left-hand and slam feet first into the chest of one of the armored Moons that still had a head. On immediate impact, this Moon's torso exploded in a shower of blood, gore, and black skin. Reducing whatever bits of Moon got near her into ash, Herah shot towards the ground. Bracing herself and forcing the back of Ècarlate's head into her breast, Herah slammed into a small crater tripling its size and launching a cloud of dirt into the air.
'What to do with you? What to do with you Petit Moi?' Herah thought to herself before looking up as the two headless Moons used the torsoless one to regrow their heads. All five of the Oni priest then lessened their armor to grow a pair of leathery looking wings. With these new additions, all the Moons halted their ascents and turned to face Herah.
With a powerful flap of her wings, Herah shot out of the crater just as the priests slammed into it. While flying through the air Herah flipped upside down and fired off several fist-sized indigo fireballs at her pursuing targets. Three shots struck two of the Moons, one being struck in only the head while the other took a shot in the chest and left arm. Starting from where the balls had struck, the priest were engulfed in their entirety and reduced to ash.
Flipping herself back up, Herah shot off into the sky with now only three Moons on her tail. Leaving Jeffery in the rain clouds while flying past the cloud and into the clear blue sky, Herah paused and waited. Before even a second could go by, the three priests with three new armored additions flew through the clouds and towards Herah. Before the last one could even leave the clouds fully, Herah launched herself back down while also calling Jeffery up to fire through one of their heads. Dipping into the clouds for but a moment, Herah shot back out and towards the nearest Moon. Just as Herah reached this Moon, the youngling turned only the fire surrounding her left arm indigo and bashed it into this priest's head. Completely eviscerating the head with her strike, Herah moved onto the next and then the next leaving only six sets of ashes to fall back to the ground.
'Jeffery, could you do me a favor and impede any Moon who tries to get up here?'
Herah got an image of herself giving a thumbs up before Jeffery disappeared below the clouds. With that out of the way, Herah exited Renaissance à son Sommet, crossed her legs, and began to think.
'I need to find somewhere safe for you that Moon can't access. Which means some alternate dimension, somewhere off planet, or somewhere that would be too hot for him to try and traverse. Norwe sees an alternate dimension as too cheap and easy, and neither you nor I can breathe in space yet.' Herah looked down to the bracelet on her wrist, the amethyst that had sat atop it having yet to fully reform. 'And the Gasshbenirium armor isn't available to me yet. Which leaves us with a very hot place.
With one hand, Herah reached up to her backpack, unzipped it and pulled out her sketchpad and a pencil. Setting Ècarlate in her lap (the baby wiggling joyfully in their mother's lap), Herah took her pencil into her other hand and quickly drew out an eye patch without a strap and a flame symbol on it. This was then joined by an orb about the size of an eye. Tapping both images with her knuckle, Herah felt her the claw on her left pinky toe turn to paint as Traduire activated.
The eye patch came out black with the flame drawn upon it appearing white, while the eye-sized orb came out a grainy grey with a somewhat rough texture. Tossing her pencil into the hand holding her sketchpad, Herah took both the orb and eye patch off her sketchpad before throwing it and her pencil back into her backpack. Zipping up her bag, Herah placed the eyepatch over her left eye and felt it secure itself in place with a few needle pricks.
"Accorde-moi l'œil du troisième et j'abandonnerai le mien." Herah said while wiping away the bits of blood that trickled down her face.
Herah let out an annoyed grunt at the feeling of a slight tingle filled her as her left eye was sucked into the void of her eyepatch. Once her eye was gone, the flame on her eyepatch and the eye-like orb in her hand both caught fire. After a second, the fire around the orb dissipated and Herah found her vision split. Closing her left eye, the youngling found that her fingers suddenly filled her sight. With a single mental command, Herah forced her new eye to fly out of her hand and down through the clouds.
After going through the clouds, Herah found herself confronted with the sight of hundreds of Moons on the ground studying Jeffery closely, as the pencil just lazily rotated directly below the clouds.
Suddenly, fifteen Moons leaped up from the ground and towards the clouds. Just before reaching the clouds, both Jeffery and the airborne Moons disappeared with only Jeffery becoming visible just as quickly as they had disappeared, once again lazily rotating.
Looking away from Jeffery, the eye-like orb began a survey of the entirety of not just Herah's and Moon's battlefield but the entirety of the battlefield for her group vs his.
'None of those small fires will work and attempting to create an area with a large enough fire is likely to end with me screwed. So I need somewhere that's already made, that Moon would have absolutely-'
Ècarlate paused in their wiggling to stare up at there mother in confusion, being that Herah had just facepalmed.
'The match was meant to symbolize the burning trees!' Herah thought to herself as her single disembodied eye stared at the still burning forest that had been created earlier in the day. 'That's the best place for Ècarlate.'
"True my dear artist."
Herah looked down into her arms and found that Norwe the Sloth had replaced her kid. Before another word could leave the Maker Sloth's mouth, Herah spat out a torrent of orange flames that engulfed the entirety of her lap, Norwe included.
Herah flinched when her flames revealed a bawling Ècarlate still in her lap with a wave of tears pouring from their eyes.
"Wait! Wait! I wasn't talking to you Petit Moi!" Herah said hurriedly with a panicked look filling her face.
Ècarlate only cried harder while flailing their tiny little limbs about, snot beginning to pour from their nose.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Mamma never meant to yell at you! Mamma is just an idiot! Please stop crying, you're going to make me cry." Herah told her child, with tears beginning to prick at her eyes
Ècarlate let out a shrill scream.
Thinking quickly, Herah breathed out a soft red flame that transformed into a tiny red Cendre that flew in circles in front of the crying babies face. This caught Ècarlate's attention and caused them to peter down to just a few whimpers before a weak giggle followed which quickly turned into full out joyful laughter.
Herah let out a sigh and a smile came to her face at the sight of her happy child.
"My dear artist, my dear artist, yelling at your child for absolutely no reason." Herah turned to the floating Maker Sloth with a growl, who now hung over her head wagging a claw at her, "Shame on you."
Before the youngling could breathe out another blast of fire, Norwe the Sloth's Presence began to poke and prod at Herah causing her to freeze up.
"Now that you've settled down a bit, let me explain to you what needs to happen now."
With a sudden sense of foreboding filling her, Herah's pupils dilated into circles and enlarged as Ècarlate was reflexively smothered into her chest and her body curled up around her child protectively. An uncharacteristic hiss left the youngling, green fire soon beginning to pour from the sides of her mouth while a hyperfocus over Norwe was established.
"Ah," Norwe the Sloth said with a chuckle, "Those maternal instincts of yours sure are impressive. They're gonna need to be for what I have in store."
"What!?" Herah hissed out, the fire emerging from her mouth only getting stronger as her feeling of foreboding grew stronger.
"While getting the kid to where they need to go, I need you to call off Jeffery and fly low to the ground." The Maker Sloth told Herah with a lazy smirk.
Norwe the Sloth actually gained a brief look of confusion, their head even tilting to the side at Herah's word.
"No," Herah told Norwe, shaking her head while holding Ècarlate even closer to her chest.
"Oh that's cute," The Maker Sloth said as they floated down to eye level with Herah before a wild and insane grin same to their face, "You would disobey me because you know that my plan doesn't bode too well for that precious child of yours, am I right?"
Herah merely hissed back at her Maker, the fire pouring from her mouth growing in amount.
"I really do value rebellion amongst my creations." Norwe the Sloth told Herah with an uncomfortable amount of care and gentleness before lifting a claw and tapping it against the youngling's forehead, "Afterall, rebellion is one of the greatest gateways to my firstborn, Chaos."
Herah winced as the Maker Sloth slowly dragged their claw across her face, blood pouring from the long slash left in its wake. Once done with that, Norwe the Sloth compelled Herah to open up with their Presence. Once that was done, the youngling was then forced to offer up Ècarlate to her Maker.
Herah began to shake and her breaths began to come much quicker as Norwe's claw neared her child's head. Ècarlate seemed to sense their mother's discomfort, shifting restlessly for a few seconds before turning their head toward her with a smile and reaching out to her.
Herah froze as, before her very eyes, Ècarlate exploded with the sound of a wet pop into a shower of blood and organs bathing her torso, arms, and face in gore.
A newborn's gore.
A newborn Cendruex's gore.
Her baby's gore.
Once that realization settled in, Herah felt something inside her break as her eyes went back up to the still smiling Norwe. Tears began to pour from her eyes in waves as Herah stared at Norwe with a completely blank expression.
"But I love rebellion the most, when the rebel gets what they want. Especially, if it's one over on me." Norwe the Sloth said, no shift in tone at all as they pointed down to Herah's arms, "Is that what you wanted artist? Your new kid de-"
"Mother I love you."
Norwe paused at Herah's hollow, dead words.
"Father I love you."
The green flames still pouring from the side of Herah's mouth began to darken and become blacker.
"La Flamme I love you."
Herah's right arm shot out to her side, Jeffery zooming into it without question before engulfing her in their Presence, Norwe's hold over her broken.
"And I know you all love me. And I know you all understand me enough," Herah felt the signal de fumèe within her throat heat up and burn like a pyre made from a star, "To know that when I forsake you, I do it out of love for another."
Herah felt her flame go cold, as black fire replaced her green and rage engulfed her. With a lazy twirl of Jeffery, Herah turned her left shoulder towards Norwe and bent her arm to the point that her left elbow pointed at Norwe. Resting Jeffery atop this joint, Herah raised her left leg to the point that her foot rested on her right knee with her wings thumping methodically to keep her hovering in her exact position.
"Do you really plan on challenging me artist?" Norwe asked, having transformed into their six armed state, "Do you really want to face the wrath of a Maker?"
"Of course not," Herah told Norwe, a furious frown having marked her face, "Even with my distinct lack of knowledge on Makers, I know that even with Jeffery by my side survival is near impossible. However," A sob ripped at Herah's throat, tears still flowing heavily from her eyes, "I will be damned before I just sit here and let you get away with such a crime against me and my family."
"Do you really think you're prepared for the consequences of what a battle with me might carry?"
And with that question, Norwe released a wave of Presence so thick and strong that it drowned out everything around Herah. Light, sound, direction, and time were submerged within complete and utter chaos with the only other visible thing to Herah being Norwe.
"Yes," Herah told he Maker without falter, readying Jeffery for an attack they both knew was likely to end in her destruction, "I've already set myself to die from forsaking my mistress, I'll take whatever you got without a single regret. Because nothing is more important than making you understand just how I feel."
With that final sentence, Herah's right arm moved forward (with the assistance of Jeffery) at a speed so fast that light wouldn't even be able to move a Planck length before her attack was done.
And she missed.
Herah's head snapped upwards as Norwe now floated over her, looking down on her with twinkles in the black holes that were their eyes. And before Herah could make another move, her Maker surprised her.
Norwe began to applaud Herah with all six of their hands..
"What are you-"
"My dear, sweet artis- No." Norwe paused their terrifyingly happy voice for a moment before nodding to themselves, "Herah, you've earned the right to be called by your name. You've just managed to become one of the few beings/ hypocrisies that I respect. And that is no easy feat."
"I don't care." Herah told her Maker, her glare only growing intenser.
"Well, you will care about what I do next." Norwe said before snapping their top left fingers.
Immediately, Herah felt heat return to her flame and the restoration of the natural laws of the universe.
Herah threw Jeffery to the side to catch a newly restored Ècarlate, the baby seeming confused for a few seconds before letting out a few random babbles and sucking on its toes.
Fresh tears began to pour from Herah's eyes as her arms once again wrapped protectively around Ècarlate. With a few choked sobs, Herah once again brought her child to her chest, nearly smothering the baby in her bosom as tears of joy flowed from her eyes.
"I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry." Herah hurriedly whispered to her child, kissing them on the forehead repeatedly between each apology, "Your mamma is a real dumbass, you know that Petit Moi?"
"WAAAHH!" Was the only reply Herah got.
"You know," Herah returned her attention to Norwe, the Maker back in their sloth form, "Only four other mortals alive right now have this respect. That being your father, two human women by the name of Gina and Iesha, and an extremely unique being by the name of Luthor."
"Why should I care?" Herah asked, letting out a snarl at the Maker Sloth.
"Because all four of those I mention are important figures for the coming events. And it never hurts to know who's who." Norwe the Sloth did a lazy wave of their right arm, " But enough about them, I need to tell you what you won!"
"What are you talking about?" Herah asked in confusion.
"I award those who entertain me, and earning my respect is certainly entertaining. So you get three things." The Maker Sloth raised a claw, "One, safe passage to get that glutton of yours to safety." Another claw was raised, "A break from the trials and tribulations of your acts after this one is done." And their last claw was raised, "And three, a bit of info."
"You're the second most entertaining part of this Recompense to me so far, only beaten by the one who shall abandon me."
"What does that even mean?"
All Norwe the Sloth did was smile and disappear.
Herah just rolled her eyes at her Makers actions before ripping off her eye patch and burning it away. Turning to face the burning forest of her creation, Herah was about to shoot off but found herself stopped by two welcome voices entering her mind.
'Herah!' Both Owen and Max mentally shouted at the same time, 'We have a plan-' Both cut off suddenly, before only Max began speaking again, 'Okay, you just went through a wide range of emotions within the span of like a second, what happened?'
Herah could only smile at the worry that was just rolling off of Max before thinking
'I'll explain it later, tell me about this plan.'
'Well, Owen got the foundations of this idea from you saying the word cover-'