“You asked to see me, sire?” a hushed voiced called out from the darkness. Before receiving an answer, the figure stepped forth and revealed themself to be a short and lanky man with a dark cloak draped over his entire body. His hair was a mess of bright gold, but it had hints of dark grey at the tips. His amber eyes darted back and forth cautiously with every step he took until finally he was bathed in purple light from a window hundreds of feet above him.
Just below the window, hanging in the middle of the air with glowing golden seals encircling their arms, was another figure. This one was even more emaciated than the cloaked figure and was clad in nothing but tattered robes that loosely hung off of the figure’s skeletal form. A mop of shifting dark purple hair hung down from their head, obscuring a pair of slumbering eyes. The figure in the air didn’t seem to be breathing and those that were unaware would likely perceive them dead, but for the cloaked man, he continued to approach and speak.
“I received the message that you sent with the ser wolf. I took every precaution to ensure that I was not followed to the rift and that my entrance in to Ser would not be monitored by Malistryfe or perceived as anything unusual. To him, it would seem as though a simple mule wandered in,” he reassured the hanging figure.
The man continued to receive no response from the figure hanging in the air, but even still, he continued on. “I can presume that the reason that you called me here was to discuss the vision that I had many years ago. I have continued to pay close attention to it and to hone my craft, especially after the incident with the previous candidate and seer. However, I have finally acquired an exact date of birth for the child as well as their location. Sire, we have them.”
With those words, he was finally able to elicit a response out of the hanging figure. Their eyes shot open, revealing the shifting dark wells that lie beneath the sunken eyelids. They tilted their head to the side as a wide grin of sharp teeth was revealed within their mouth.
In a high-pitched and lightly accented voice, the figure spoke, their voice echoing and seemingly accompanied by a deep whisper that doubled back over itself in an unsettling manner. “This is wonderful news, Lothia. I am so happy that you were able to locate them. It will make things far easier for us.”
“Of course, sire,” Lothia replied, dropping on one knee to bow. “How shall we proceed?”
After a few moments, the figure finally spoke. “I believe that, this time, we shall take a more hands-on approach. I thought that, with Sadi left to her own devices, she could fester a hatred for the world and the Masters all on her own, but it seems that her madness consumed her. But with that in mind, I was able to make sure that, in my care, this new child’s madness would not overwhelm them, but instead simply become a part of them. I plan to assume the role of this child’s parent. And, seeing as to how Sadi’s mother was so formative, I believe I shall take the role of the child’s mother.”
“Zeraph… sire, how will you go about doing so?”
Zeraph snarled, causing Lothia to quiver and back up. “You will take a part of my consciousness from the crystal underneath of me and implant that in to a woman that you see fit. In this matter, I will be leaving the selection entirely up to you. I would prefer if the previous consciousness were no longer present when I am inserted, but if it is too difficult for you to do such a thing, I would not be entirely surprised.”
“Sire, no! I would be honored to procure a new body for you! Please, entrust this matter to me and I assure you that I will find you a body befitting of you!” Lothia pleaded.
Zeraph smirked and nodded. “So be it. Now, from the information you have provided me, shortly after the child’s birth, they will be moved to the mortal world for ‘safe keeping’, is that correct?”
“Yes, sire. They would be able to successfully conceal the child from you for a great amount of time, were it to be brought to the mortal world. It would likely result in failure for you, so it would be optimal to get the child before it makes its way to the mortal world.”
“Good. Then, you will need to capture the child and bring it to the facility before any of that can happen. Is that understood?”
Lothia nodded and disappeared in to the shadows. “It is done, sire.”
Now alone, Zeraph began to cackle, their body rocking about in the air violently as the sound grew louder and more manic. The bindings on their body beginning to sear their flesh, but the pain only seemed to excite them more. “This is going to be fun”
- - -
The day of the capture, Zeraph was met with a strange nagging feeling. They could feel their consciousness being pulled away from them. At first, they believed it to be some strange device of the bindings, but then they recognized the feeling. Instead of fighting, they fully embraced the feeling and allowed their consciousness to be pulled from their body.
When they awoke, Zeraph was on the ground looking upwards as a shining bright sky. They growled at the sight before looking down at the slightly mangled body they were now inhabiting. Due to injury, they were barely able to move, but after a moment, the body began to repair itself and soon, Zeraph made their way to their feet and began to inspect the strange new body they were inhabiting.
“Sire, are you pleased with your new body?” Lothia asked, kneeling before Zeraph.
They looked over it, their hands eventually drawing to their chest. They grasped their breasts, wincing slightly at the pain. “These seem… impractical… But if I am to maintain a feminine appearance for the betterment of this child, I suppose they shall help.”
The body that Zeraph was now inhabiting was a rather athletic one. The body had a decent bit of tone all around. Their hair, skin, and eyes slowly began to change to that of Zeraph’s, giving the body a somewhat more undead quality, but Zeraph felt far less adverse to inhabiting it, now that it appeared more like them.
“From now on you will refer to me as she, if it arises,” Zeraph informed. She was slowly becoming more accustomed to her voice. It still held some of the qualities that her true body had, but they were all lesser. Everything about the body was similar to Zeraph, but different in slight ways.
“Of course, sire. Should you not pick a new name for this identity as well? It could be rather conspicuous if you were to use your true name. Though seeing you call yourself anything else will pain me, I shall adjust.”
Zeraph thought for a moment. She had never once had any desire to disguise or conceal her identity in any way. She was always proud about who she was and wished for all to know exactly who that was. However, she had to concede that Lothia had a point. “I believe I shall use the name Sera. Do you think that would be appropriate for a human?”
“Yes, sire. A fine name.”
“Well, now that we have that matter settled, I will make my way to the hideout. I believe it’s time for you to go get the child, is it not?” Zeraph asked as she began to walk away.
“Yes, sire. And I might suggest that you adorn yourself in some form of clothing. You stick out a bit as is.”
“I see, how droll…” she said as darkness pooled around her body and formed a simple cloak that covered her entire body.
As she walked out in to the forest, she was met with how odd it was to actually feel once again. She had been trapped in Ser for hundreds of years now and while she had occasionally left Ser in a manner similar to this, she was almost always simply using it to observe the world through the eyes of her creatures. Actually, fully taking over the body of a humanoid creature was much different. Creatures of Ser did not feel like others. Even the corrupted lost all feeling, but Zeraph was inside of a human body and despite it being dead less than an hour prior, it was now no different from any living human body. With each step, Zeraph was able to feel the crunch of the earth underneath of her. It disgusted her. She smiled wistfully, thinking of how, in no time at all, this pitiful ball of dirt and rock would be nothing but dust.
After a few hours of walking, Zeraph arrived at the hideout that had been constructed as a home for the child. It looked like nothing but a simple run-down shack on the inside, but once inside, it looked the same. However, there was a secret entrance to an immense underground housing space and training facility. Supposedly, Lothia had filled it with everything that a child would need to grow up. Zeraph had no way of ensuring this was correct, so she simply took his word on the matter. Additionally, the entire place had been insulated with a special compound from Ser that Zeraph had created to make them completely invisible to the Masters and Sengario.
As Zeraph exited in to the underground facility, she was a bit taken back. Lothia had made it out to be something simple though he had also mentioned that the designer had gone a bit rogue. The entire place was absolutely massive and every inch of it seemed to be designed with purpose in mind.
In the center of the facility, there was an immense sparring ring that featured several different kinds of terrain. On one of the sides of the arena, there was a long hallway that housed several dozen rooms, if others were needed. At present, Zeraph had no intention of having others staying within the facility, but having the option was helpful. Next to the housing, there was a large hall that seemed to be for eating. It had always confused Zeraph, the concept of mortal beings needing to consume to stave off death.
On the other side of the facility, there was an armory, a storage facility, and finally a room that was marked with Zeraph’s sigil. She made her way over to it and went inside, finding a very large bedroom that also seemed to have many things that would be helpful for raising a child or so she was able to gather from the note that Lothia left explaining the room.
Before they could delve too far in to their confusion over the various items all across the room, Zeraph heard a sound. They bolted out of the room and found the sound to be that of Lothia. He had a sizeable amount of green blood splattered across his face and he was horribly out of breath, but in his arms, there was a rather loud bundle of cloth. It seemed to be screeching at a rather high pitch. As Lothia and Zeraph met halfway, Zeraph was met with the sight of a crying child. Her eyes widened and then went up to Lothia.
“Is this… the child?”
Lothia nodded, still quite out of breath.
Zeraph scowled. “Why is it making that noise?”
Lothia took a moment to catch his breath as they made their way to the master bedroom. Lothia took a seat on the bed, still holding the child in his arms. “This child was only born two days ago. They no longer have a mother and it is highly likely that they are hungry as well.”
“I see. Well, how are we meant to feed the child?” Zeraph asked, still staring at the child with a look of disgust.
“A female’s body holds all of the nutrients required for an infant. I had planned to simply alter my body to accommodate the child’s needs, as required, but with you now in a woman’s body, with some very slight modifications, I could actually make you capable of providing them with nutrients,” Lothia explained.
Zeraph’s confusion only seemed to grow. “I don’t follow.”
“Sire, the things on your body that you called impractical are actually called breasts. Infants are provided nutrients through their mother’s breasts. Your breasts would not properly nutrition the child as is, but as a light apprentice, I can slightly modify the hormones of your body as induce a state that is like that of a mother after child birth.”
Zeraph shrugged. “Will it make the child cease it’s screeching?”
Lothia nodded. “It is likely that it will also help forge a maternal bond with the child now that they are without the mother they were born of.”
“Very well. Do what you must,” Zeraph replied flatly.
“Lower your top.”
Without a second thought, Zeraph dropped their top down, providing Lothia will full access to her upper body. Lothia then held his hands up and formed a seal, using it to alter Zeraph’s body’s chemistry. After the process was complete, Lothia held the child out for Zeraph who met him with a look of confusion.
“The child will latch on to the nipple and they will draw forth nutrients from the breasts. Simply bring their mouth close and they will likely begin to suckle,” Lothia coached.
Zeraph followed and shortly the child begin to feed. Zeraph growled, resisting the urge to toss the child across the room. “This is a deeply unpleasant feeling. However, the screeching has ceased, so this is an acceptable compromise. How much longer must I do this?”
“This kind of care is required for some time after the child’s birth, but after a certain time, we can switch to alternative nutrients.”
Zeraph took a deep breath. “It will all be worth it in the end.” As she looked down at the child attached to her, a thought occurred to her. “Do they have a name?”
“I believe their name is Avien.”
“Avien…” Zeraph mused, leaning in to whisper in to their ear. “I’ve waited a long time to meet you, Avien. I’m quite happy that you are here now. We will do great things together.”
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