Quaraun lay, half sitting up, propped up with many pillows, hugging the young she-Elf close to him. Both Elves looked terrified. Quaraun was scared of his closest friends. Scared of Unicorn. Scared of GhoulSpawn. Scared of FarDarrig. Quaraun was clutching the she-Elf to him as though he expected to be attacked at any moment. The terror in his eyes was unlike anything Unicorn had ever seen before.
Quaraun had not said a word since they had found him. Instead he made growling, grunting, hissing sounds with his throat whenever any one tried to get close.
Quaraun was a very powerful wizard, and extremely dangerous when frightened or angry, and he was clearly both, though they did not know why. Unicorn and GhoulSpawn were his two closest and dearest friends and yet he was lashing out at them as though they were his mortal enemies. It scared them to see him like this. They had sent for FarDarrig, a psychic mind reader, to try to look into the Elf's mind and find out what was going on in his head.
The three of them stayed back now, waiting for the wizard's temper to calm. Waiting for it to be safe to approach the bed again.
Time slipped by and Quaraun seemed to have relaxed some. FarDarrig ventured closer to the bed. Quaraun's eyes followed the Vampire Leprechaun's every move. The undead psychic stood over the silent Elf.
"He's grown so old..." FarDarrig said. "Wherever he was, time moved different there. And you're right... There's a glimmer spell. Oh my. I can not tell you every thing you want to know. I can see through the glimmer spell, what it is he doesn't want you to see. I can see his silence. He's suffering. He is in great pain, far more then you can imagine. He's injured. Crippled. And afraid. He has terrible wounds and he's afraid to let you know, what they are. Where they are. ... His silence. ... He's injured. He can not talk. He's mute now. I don't think he'll ever be able to talk again."
"Why can't he talk?" Unicorn asked.
"He's injured. The glimmer spell... it hides a terrible, horrible injury. One that has left him mute. He doesn't want you to know. I won't tell you all. But I will tell you this. He's been burned. He doesn't want you to know what he looks like now. And his tongue's been cut out. He can't talk any more. I don't think he'll ever talk again. I don't think he can. The injury's new. The wound is not yet healed, but I think, even after it does heal, he'll not recover his ability to talk."
"His tongue's been cut out?"
"By who? And why?"
"Slave traders. Elf breeders. Humans. They made him a slave. He's an aristocrat. Royalty. A High Elf. He didn't take to being a slave well. He's stubborn. Insubordinate. Refused to obey orders. Talked back. Talked back too much. Too often. They burned his tongue. But it healed. And he went right back to it again. They did it several times. Each time he healed and never learned his lesson. It was easier to remove his tongue and be done with it."
"Who's the female?" Unicorn asked.
"She's his daughter, isn't she?" GhoulSpawn asked as he watched the old Elf cuddling the young pregnant she-Elf. The she-Elf was very beautiful, and looked hauntingly very much like Quaraun. She was clearly a Moon Elf and as Quaraun was the last Moon Elf, there was no other way for there to be a second Moon Elf unless he was her father.
"Yes," FarDarrig answered. "Her name is Pippiatta. And he can communicate with her, even without his tongue. The Elven hive mind. He has it with her. They can talk to each other without their voices. Speaking with their thoughts, the way other Elves do. The way he used to be able to do before he was cast out of Elf society and the hive mind connection severed from his brain. They are talking to each other constantly. They are very close. I believe they may be bonded."
"Soul bound? He's already soul bound to Unicorn."
"Yes, but an Elf can be bound to more then one mate. And he's been alone for a long time."
"She looks just like him. What about her baby? Is it his?"
"It is. And it's not her first. They've had others. They've been taken away. That's why they're afraid. That's why they are clinging to each other like this. They've both been hurt. They've both been traumitized. They've both found comfort in the embrace of the other. She's born him many children now. More then I can count. They've not been allowed to raise their children. The infants were taken from them hours after they were born. She's traumatized. Terrified. We are strangers to her. She is afraid we will take her baby. They'd been wandering in the forest for a few weeks before you found them...."
"He was only gone 7 days."
"Every day here was at least ten years there. They had escaped. Fled into the forest. She's been taking care of him. He hasn't been able to travel well. He's badly injured. They were both starving. She's been afraid. Afraid for mate. Afraid he would die. Afraid for her babies. Afraid they would not be born if she couldn't find food."
"Babies? More then one?"
"She's carrying twins. Both male. I can see their minds as well. Quaraun is hyper afraid. He's already afraid as is his nature, but he's feeling her fear as well, through the hive mind, and it's keying him up because he knows he's injured too badly to protect her. The babies can sense their mother's fear and so they are also afraid. Quaraun is connected to them by the hive mind as well. He knows his sons are afraid inside her womb and he knows he's too weak to protect them. That's why he's acting so keyed up right now. He wants to protect his family and he knows he can't. All 4 of them need to know they are safe here and that none of us will hurt them."
"How do we do that? Tell them they are safe?"
"Quaraun already knows it, but he doesn't. Her emotions are changing and altering his. He's in great pain. The worst of the burns are new. They were beating her. I'm not sure why. Something she did. Something she said. They were keep in barn like building. Hundred of Elves. Stalls like cells. They slept on the floor in piles of hay. They singled him out. The other Elves. He had no hive mind connection. They knew he was an out cast Elf. The other Elves, took care of each other, but they took away the food. Wouldn't let him eat. Beat him up when he tried to steal their scraps. The Humans didn't know. He was starving... oh dear..."
"What is it?"
"He went too long with eating. And then, there building was fenced in. Like a prison. The Elves were allowed to go outside. There was a field. With trees. And rocks. He went outside to look for food. Another Elf followed him. Bullied him. They didn't know he was a wizard. He tried to get away. But they found branches and rocks to hit him with. He tried to run, but they broke his leg. He was scared and hungry. He was ever so hungry. The Thullid inside him was starving to death. He's changed. He's not an Elf any more. He's a Thullid now."
"He's been a Thullid for decades."
"No. He's been holding on to the Elf. Keeping the Elf's memory alive. Pretending to be an Elf. He's not any more. He went too long without food. Week. They wouldn't let him eat. The other elves. The slave masters fed each Elf. Gave them all food. But then they left. And the other Elves took his food away. Because he's outcast. But they didn't he he was a Thullid. And at first no one noticed... The day in the field... the day they broke his leg. When they got down the Elves went back to their barn to sleep. He stayed outside. He was in too much pain. Hunger. And a broken leg. One Elf went out that night. Found him sitting alone in the field. And started pushing him around. And he changed. He's been using glimmer spells for a while. A long while. Long before the portal took him away. He's transformed. Alone with just the one Elf and no one else to see. And so very hungry. He dropped the glimmer spell, let the Elf see his Thullid form, just long enough, so the Elf knew what was happening. He killed him. Tore out his brain and ate it. No one noticed at first. There were so many Elves. Hundreds of them all in that one barn. So one missing. It took a few days to notice him gone... and by then a few more were gone too."
"Is ya saying, "Unicorn asked. "Quaraun has turned into a squid headed tentacle beast?"
"Almost, but not quite. He's a Jelly Thullid, not a Squid. He still retains his Elf body, but the jelly fish has grown huge. She's no longer the tiny little speck she once was. She filled his whole skull now. Curled up inside, like a little hermit crab nestled away, until she comes out to attack. Thousands of jelly tentacles, that can exit through his mouth and rip off your head, crush your skull, and tear out your brain, all in a few seconds. Then pull out the brain, up into his body, tuck it away in his skull, so she can feast on it in her leisure."
"I can do that too," GhoulSpawn said.
"Ya can?" Unicorn looked at GhoulSpawn.
"Yeah. Been able to do it a few years now. He's been a Thullid longer then me, he's probably been able to do it a few decades now."
"Does ya eat Elves?"
GhoulSpawn shook his head, silently, no.
"Does ya eat sheep?"
"I try not too."
Unicorn looked at Quaraun. The frightened Moon Elf was still staring at them through widen, fear filled eyes, and clutching the she-Elf to his chest, looking ready to attack any one that got close to her.
"So him eat Elves now, and him has a daughter, who is pregnant wid his baby. And him scared out of his mind and hiding what him looks like cause him no longer look himself un does nay wants us to know."
"Any t'ing else?"
"He's very distressed over the incest issue."
"Incest is tradition with Moon Elf," Unicorn said. "Him always said him would never do that."
"He wasn't given a choice in that. They found the half-Elf he fathered many decades ago and forced him to breed with her several times."
"Forced to breed?"
"He was captured by slave traders and sold for a very high price to Elf breeders. They bred him to many she-Elves. He has fathered many children in his absence. Hundreds of children."
"Ya said him fathered this half-Elf long time gone, before him got taken?"
"Why did I not know that?"
"He hid it from you. He was scared you'd kill him."
"The memory of Gibedon haunts his mind."
"That was so long ago."
"He still carries Gibedon's head, to remind himself, you eat Elves. Even your lovers. Gibedon was the lover you had, just before him. He replaced Gibedon after you ate Gibedon."
"Is that why him keep Gibedon head?"
"Yes. You've killed, eaten, and replaced all of your previous lovers. He's terrified you'll do the same to him. More so now then ever."
"Why more so now?"
"He's been unfaithful to you. He knows you saw him copulating with the she-Elf. He's waiting for his punishment now."
"When did him father a half-Elf?"
"He was trapped in a portal before. Also in the future. He was unable to try to come back, because he was injured almost immediately after arriving. He was taken to a place where all the sick and injured were gathered together to be taken care of. A pregnant Human took care of him for several months, nursing him back to health. She was very excited about being a mother. And then her baby died. A previous husband, beat her up and killed the baby because it wasn't his. She was very sad. She was a widow, with no hope for another baby. She cried all the time. When he was well enough to leave the infirmary, he took the girl with him. He found Black Tower, but it was Black Tower in an alternate version of here and he couldn't find a portal to bring him back here. The girl stayed with him at Black Tower, but she remained very sad. He did not love her, but he was very sad for her. He took care of her and tried to make her happy again. But she was so distraught over the death of her baby, the sadness enveloped her and he became afraid she would kill herself. He didn't want her to die like BoomFuzzy did, so he took her into his bed and gave her another baby."
FarDarrig became deathly silent.
"What is wrong?" Unicorn asked the Leprechaun.
"She died. She was murdered. You found a portal to bring him back and she was left behind. He panicked. After he got back here, he realized he couldn't leave an Elf baby behind in that world. Because Elves did not exist in that world. He remember his own childhood. He remembered GhoulSpawn's childhood, being a half-Elf, raised without any one to love him. He didn't want that for his baby. He realized too late the error of creating a child, that never should have been, in a world where he did not belong. He thought bringing her back here would fix it. He'd changed history and he knew it. He'd left a half-Elf baby in a world with no Elves. He lied to you then, to get you to help him go back and bring the girl here."
"I remembers that."
"The future without Unicorn," GhoulSpawn said. "I remember it too. He was frantic. He was gonna go back if we helped him or not. He told us some one was trying to kill her. He wanted to protect her. He didn't tell us she was pregnant, we found that out when we met her. But you said she died? How? I thought we saved her."
"You did. And you brought her here, out of her time, out of her dimension... and you of all people should know you can't exist long in a dimension not your own..."
"But I'm a Demon from a Hell dimension, in a world that Demons shouldn't be in. It messes with my genetics. But she was a Human and this plain has Humans. I thought..."
"You thought wrong. And you took her out of her world, our of her dimension, out of her time, and took her to our past. He visited her several times. And when the baby was born, he went back to the same village many times to visit his half-Elf daughter."
"The village we kept going back to..." Unicorn whispered. "It was razed. The baby... That baby. Is that her? She's the baby? He went mad when the soldiers came and tried to take the baby. I couldn't understand why. I never seen him fight before. But he fought those soldiers. They crippled him. It why him on the cane now. Him would na let go of the baby, and he could no fight any more. They wounded him. He knew he was about to die. He knew if he just handed over the baby, they would have walked away. But he held on to her while they beat him. They shattered his spine. Then one soldier pulled out a sword and ran it through him. He still would no let the baby go. The soldier pulled out the sword and ran it through him again. Oh my poor Elf. He finally collapsed from lose of blood. Still clutch that baby. But he was too weak to hold on any more and they took her from his arm and they left. Left him lying in the street, his blood gushing from his body. He almost died. It was month before he could stand up again. Months more before he could walk. He never recovered. His leg's been lame ever since. I never seen defend any one like that before. He tried so hard hard to keep that baby.And ya saying, this girl here... she's that baby?"
"Yes. And that's why he's clinging to her like he is, right now. He doesn't want to lose her again."
"It was his baby? He was her father? Why didn't he tell me? I made him give it up. I didn't know he was the father. He never told me."
"He didn't dare to. You have a terrible temper."
"What baby?" GhoulSpawn asked Unicorn. "When did all this happen? Why didn't I know about it?"
"Right after we took Black Tower, things got weird. Time shifted. It was right after HellBorne died. Right after they implanted you with the Thullid egg. You were wounded and ran away. We tried to find you, but you jumped into some portal. Portal went weird after HellBorne died. And time kept changing. We'd wake up in a different year every day. We didn't know what time we were in. We kept getting sent to the past and future and we kept ending up at this tavern. Same tavern over and over again. And one day, as we were walking into the village, a bright light opened up in the clouds. A huge flying ship popped out of a portal and set fire to the village. Quaraun went mad with terror and ran to the tavern, looking for one of the bar maids. When he found her, she was dead, but underneath her, she been shielding a baby from the blaze and the baby was still alive. He took the baby with him and it was the strangest thing, but he became very defensive of the baby, very protective. It was out of character for him. Normally a Human baby, he'd have found another Human to take it, but this one... he wouldn't let any one near it. He went full on mother hen. But the baby was like a plague. Soon as we found it, we started having one bad thing after another happen. People started attacking us for no reason. Monsters and Demons would pop out of portals and try to kill us to get to the baby.
And then one day, a band of Human soldiers attacked, they wanted the baby. They accused us of taking it, we being to males, an Elf and a Faerie and the baby being Human. He wouldn't hand the baby over, so they tried to take it by force and he was sick, hurt, he couldn't fight back but he did anyways and then he was wounded, and, so he just held the baby to his chest and shielded it from them, while they lashed out at him, stabbing him with swords. I was newly regenerated so still weak and couldn't set foot in sunlight yet. I couldn't help him. They were gonna kill him. One soldier ran a sword through his side, another pinned him to the ground, driving a sword through his leg into the dirt. They were gonna take the baby one way or another. When he collapsed, he wouldn't let go of her. It became clear they were gonna kill him. I took the baby from him and gave it to them and they left. He was months recovering his injuries, and his leg never fully healed, that's why he limps. He spent months hunting down those soldiers trying to find that baby. I tried to get him to take other orphan babies, he would have nothing to do with it. It was just that one baby. It had to be that baby. No other. He was desperate to find her, but we never did and it broke his heart. And I never knew why. I didn't know she his baby. He never told me. It never occurred to me to think he might have been her father."
"She shouldn't exist," FarDarrig said. "And he knows it. He's talked to the Gremlin more often then he's told you. He went to the Gremlin to ask for help. After the solider took her. He thought, GhoulSpawn of the future would help him. He didn't know it was GhoulSpawn of the future, who'd sent the solders. People from all points of time and space are trying to find her and kill her and he knows that. If she had never been born, Ongadada would never happen."
"He's seen more of the future then he's telling you. He's meet the Gremlin and he knows who the Gremlin is and why the Gremlin knows so much about about him, and why the Gremlin is trying so hard to undo the damage the portals have done. Blue skinned Elves from a future far away, came here to our time and razed her village. They killed every one just to get to her. And they did it on the Gremlin's orders..."
"Gremlin?" GhoulSpawn asked. "But he's me. He's me in the future."
"Yes. You, when you are very old. You become the Gremlin."
"You're saying, I'm the one... I gave the orders to kill his family?"
"Why would I do that? I abhor death, murder, war, and violence."
"Yes. I know. And that's why you do it. He's going to murder 30 billion people. And you return to his past to try to stop him."
"By killing his baby?"
"Yes. The poor tormented Elf. Through that one baby, now grown up, he's fathered hundreds more babies that should not exist. Each female he fathered in her, was brought to him soon as she was old enough to be bred. Each of their female children were bred by him as well. He's been trapped in that world more then seventy years, and a she-Elf grows ripe for breeding in only ten. The poor Elf. He swore he'd never follow in his family's generations long history of incest and he was forced to do it more then most. He was forced to breed against his will. The poor Elf. His mind's broken. Lost in depth so far away."
"He doesn't like sex with females."
"No. He doesn't. He wasn't given a choice. They tortured him when he refused to copulate with the females. The poor Elf, he's been tortured horrifically. But then they finally discovered that if they tortured the she-Elves in front of him, he would bred with them in order to end their suffering. He could withstand his own suffering, but he couldn't bear to watch others suffer. They broke him. He finally reached a point of it just being easier to fuck the female when they brought her to him, rather than have them torture her first. They've used him to bring back the Moon Elves, but they're different. He's no longer a Moon Elf. He's a Thullid. And the females were partly Human. They've created a monstrous hybrid race. They call themselves the Ratzins."
"I think.... I think you two need to talk to the Gremlin... ask him to explain. Quaraun's blocking his mind and I'm not seeing everything. Something the Gremlin told him... he's hiding it from me. He knows I'm reading his thoughts. Unicorn..."
FarDarrig turned to face the Phooka.
"Somethings wrong. I don't know what. There's more. But he's not letting me see it. It's terrifying."
"Ongadada is supposed the quite horrific..."
"No. Not that. His mind. It's terrifying.Looking into his mind. He has powers, I could not have imagined existed. The Thullids are right to fear and worship him. To call him a god. He is. He is exactly what they say he is. Ancient beyond imagining. The jelly fish that lives in him... it is the Elder Brain, and she's thousands of years old. Tens of thousands of years old. She existed long before our world did. I can see all her memories. For eons. The powers you've seen him display. Things you've seen him do... you call him, the world's most powerful wizard. People of the future, are coming back to the past desperately trying to stop this future war from happening... it's not a war... it's a massacre. A vast, massive, massacre. He's seen it. He's been there. The Gremlin took him there and showed him, what he's gonna do.... you have no idea what he's truly capable of... the powers you've seen... they are not even ice shavings off the tip of the iceberg. The Sacred Pink Jelly Fish, she truly is a god... and right now, she's terrified. She's trapped. Hiding away inside the skull of this Elf, terrified and ready to lash out. She's peaceful. She just wants to be left alone, but she's on edge. She's ready to attack. And she will. If she's pushed too far she will, and almost there right now. She'd teetering on the edge. Quaraun's been pushed too far. This last portal. The slave traders. The Elf breeders. They're all dead now. He slaughtered them in his escape. He's left a trail of blood to get back here. He's turned to cannibalism. He's been eating Elf brains. And he's been doing it for a while. Every one's always called him insane... he wasn't then, not before... but he is now. Quaraun's truly insane now and he's about to snap. I really don't want to be around when he does. I can see his memories. I can see the massacre he left behind, in the world he just left. I can see how far he went, to save her life and bring her back here. He's not the Quaraun you knew 7 days ago. That elf is dead. I don't think he's coming back. I don't think he can. He's been pushed too far. Way too far."