Chapter 1: Ūnus
The kingdom is a lovely place, if you are there for its lush landscape. The large city and castle had been built a valley, surrounded by protective mountains and tall forests. There was one singular crack in the mountains, where the trade and new starry-eyed travelers (and citizens) flowed in. The valley was shaped much like an oval, with a single slit where the previously mentioned crack was. The blessed place was large. Very large. Miles upon miles in length, really.
One's valley was like a measure. The closer you were to the entrance, the poorer you were. Farmers, ranchers, and slaves were the first sight. But the distance, pushed up against the opposite end of the protective range, was a castle. It was originally built into the ground, but as time went on, it expanded outwards onto the mountains surface like vines in its architecture. No matter where you were in the lush ravine, you were always able to see the castle.
To be nearby the castle meant you were in good means with The King or his advisor. His simple look upon a noble, then a grimace, could decide whether the person in question were fit to live a lavish lifestyle. A frown from the king was like a large stab wound to reputation. Reputation, to a noble, meant everything. It could be the difference between keeping your nose high, or being thrust down towards the common folk.
The King himself was a well tempered man, but he was not exactly a king that one would call kind. Yes, he was calm, collected, his actions were valorous and well received by the public when it came to domestic policy.. He had one, horrible flaw. He lusted for material wealth. He lusted for grand palaces, for gold, for everything he did not already have. He was self controlled in a sense that he would not send out armies to go plunder things, however.
This was only because every single year, there was a new war. There was no need to send soldiers out to plunder when they were doing enough stealing during war as is. The wars were always the same. The neighboring kingdoms desired one thing, and one thing only. A majestic creature that The King had discovered, hidden in the valley long before any house or farm was built there.
The name itself brought upon why it was so treasured. Star Dream, named after The Stars themselves, was a creature of amazing intellect and magic. It could answer any question put before it with extreme accuracy. It could heal any wound, cure any disease, and create anything one so asked it to create. The holiness of the creature was one reason it was so desired by neighbors, but the rest of the attributes made such neighbors turn to desperate measure to attain it.
This is why The King always had guard at every post, all hours of the day. Not even his own citizens, in his eyes, were unlikely to try to take his so saught-after creature from his hardened grasp. Star Dream itself had only the most prestigious soldiers guarding its quarters, and some less prestigious patrolling around it. The King was paranoid to lose the white bodied prophet for good reason.
Mullistus was one of the most prestigious of the prestige. He lived through more battles than any one soldier should, and he could live through many more. He was the perfect soldier, the most loyal of loyal. He refused to become captain despite this, and any promotion past his current was too high of a command than one simple man such as he deserved.
Despite his ranking, he were treated as if he were akin to The King's personal guard. Not a single person in the kingdom did not know his name from his conquests. He did enjoy what being a public servant entailed, he lived for the happy smiles of citizens, young and old alike. It did, however, take him a bit to get used to the smiles of those who held.. Less desirable attributes.
It was not as if these people were ugly in any regard. No, no they were not ugly. He wasn't even the same species as them, he had no right to go calling any Batamon ugly when he was just but a Waddle Dee (a specific sub species of Waddle Dee, even). But he had spent enough time around the normal Batamon to know that the ones with wings and horns were inferior to those who didn't.
It was odd to think that way, as those with horns could cast magic and those with wings could fly. They were useful, in some sense. They were useful in battle, in working. However, they were not welcomed much anywhere else. Mullistus didn't want to form any opinions on what the ethnic politics were all about. He tried to see all sides as equal, but that was hard to do when there were so many books published on why those with 'demonic features' were lesser. There was even new science about it.
It was really a onesided fight, as most with the features were illiterate and couldn't write. That ability was held by those who could afford schooling, which was held by the upper and some of the more wealthy middle class. Mullistus had managed to go to school after gaining The King's rare favor, and was allowed to go for free. It was the reason he could speak Batamon, while other Waddle Dees could only communicate in squeaks or nonverbal nods. He was a very odd sort, as noblemen approached him about parties or get togethers, despite his lower social and monetary status. The King liked him, thus, everyone else valued him as well.
Waddle Dees weren't exactly treated too different from Batamon. They were seen as a lower class by default due to species. Some Waddle Dees worked on farms, others in shops, some as janitors. However, none, absolutely none were in the military. None were guards. Except for Mullistus, of course. Waddle Dees weren't seen as fit for combat, as they were fragile and couldn't handle a single punch.
He, however, was born with a body of steel. He was apart of a rare and new sub-species, one which had no name until he appeared. Tough Waddle Dee. Tough as armor's metal, Mullistus could take a beating and not even fall over. This made him fit for duty. This made him the most well known soldier in the kingdom. This is what earned The King's rare smile and generosity.
Mullistus was happy with where he was. Though, he had trudged deeper into adulthood every day. He had no family of his own to speak of. His mother and father had him when they were old, so they left him the house to himself when they eventually departed to join The Stars from age. But, as he thought of himself and his status, he couldn't help but feel.. Alone.
Watching citizens pass from his post outside the castle's walls only made him feel lonelier. Yes, he had flings when the time came around, and brothels were more than common on the poorer parts of the city, but it always left him feeling empty after the moments had passed. Mullistus simply just wanted someone. Not in a sense of lust, but just.. Someone.
Looking at nobles pass, they were in couples. That, or it was just men. The women who went outdoors were always, always accompanied by their husbands or suitors or whatevers. He had no interest in men (at least not for romantic purposes), and to see no women available made his heart sink. It was always like this. His shift outside the walls started with optimism, then ended with a sense of terrible heartache and longing.
Perhaps he would see Star Dream about his problems. No, he would not ask such selfish things of it. He would just pray to the creature's namestake instead. To The Stars himself. He closed his eyes, an arm reaching lightly to his temples as he prayed internally. He prayed, he prayed to be freed of his desolation and isolation. He prayed to find love.
As soon as he was finished his prayer, he opened his eyes. Just beyond him, he caught a glimpse of someone in the midst of the couples that adorned the streets. A Batamon of long, silver hair, who wore flowers of white as her crown. A body of pink, and shoes of red. Her eyes of spring leaves after the first rainfall. With just that, he was smitten, and she threatened to disappear from his line of sight and into another street. He ran from his post, into the road.
The Stars had answered his prayer. He dashed, madly, through nobles who could barely get out of his way. He weaved through the expensively dressed crowds, through men who wore their wealth to be displayed, and women who were dressed like trophies.
He wished to call out to her, to tell her to stop where she was. The words couldn't manage themselves. This did not manage to make itself much of a problem, as he finally caught the beauty by her hand. As soon as he had hold of her hand, he had lost all semblance of language. Time froze, and she turned her ethereal gaze towards him.
Her gaze was as comforting as the most expensive silk money could buy. She was surprised, yes, but that dissolved into a face of a delicate smile. She irradiated with something Mullistus couldn't describe, and the air around him grew comforting. It's like he had left the kingdom to join The Stars in eternal, promised blessed ease.
"I-I.." He shook, taking his hand away from hers, "My apologies, my lady.. Your beauty simply took me from my post, and your elegance had left me without words. You are simply so radiant, I had to go to you."
Her smile stayed simple, and comforted him more in his speech. He was flushed, he realized. Well, at least it showed how honest he was with his comments.
"You are quite the flatterer, sir Mullistus.. Your words are unexpected from someone of such high honor. Thank you."
She nodded. He thought, on his feet.
"My lady, would it be above me to ask for your name, lest you haunt my thoughts, nameless, for the rest of my unworthy life? And what might you be doing here that I have not been graced by you before?"
His eyes were simply sparkling right now. He was totally enraptured in her presence. She was like the very sun itself, beautiful and bright. Blinding him to everything else around him except for herself.
"Niteō, and I am but commonfolk, sir. I am not a lady of wealth or nobility, I am simply here to supply flowers for a duke's marriage late tomorrow morn. I am off back to the shop to get more."
She looked as if she expected this to have him taken aback in disgust. It was like she were guilty because of her working class stature, that she expected him to shun her because of it.
"Ah, a beautiful work for a beautiful woman. You will not mind if I accompany you, then?"
"Would it not besmirch your name to be seen with someone such as I?"
"If it is a crime to walk beside and adore a goddess, then I will willingly shout myself guilty."
Niteō, before Mullistus had met her, was bound to be wedded off to some lucky blacksmith who made his fortunes through crafting gold into trinkets and emblems for travelers. She had never met the blacksmith before, and when her parents (a horned Batamon and a normal Batamon) had heard of someone like Mullistus taking interest in her, they nearly had heart attacks. Cancelling and disregarding the previous suitor, her parents gave Mullistus their blessings and their daughter's hand. They asked for a marriage as soon as possible, and Mullistus denied them that immediate dream.
Marriage, for Batamon, was a purely political thing. Love came secondary for couples, this much he knew. He heard of it from his brothers in arms, how they complained about their wives and how they wished they had gotten someone they actually preferred. For Waddle Dees, there was no such thing as marriage in the first place. For Mullistus, he felt like the woman he adored deserved more than just a sudden marrying. He wanted to make sure she had loved him as much as he did. He was oddly sentimental about it, too.
So, for the past months, he visited her and took her out to places as if they were married. He took her to the higher places of society, where he greeted her to his friends of high status. He bought her things she never thought she would be able to afford, and eat like the wife of an emperor. He was just as wealthy as she, but to spend the money on her smile rather than his own made him feel more complete than anything in the past had.
He finally had reason to attend the parties he had been invited to. He'd bring her with him, of course. She never mentioned her status as a commoner, so no sideways glances were thrown. Her beauty was enough to deter anyone from thinking she did not belong amongst the richest of rich. She enjoyed the parties, talking with other women of respect was one of her consistent highlights, other than the fact she spent time with him.
The Batamon men would tell him what a fantastic catch he had managed, how she was such a pure piece of eyecandy that they would willingly trade in fortunes for her delicate gloved hand. He shook off such ideas with forced laughs and glances to the side. Whenever he'd admit to not have yet having her hand, they'd astonish and go ghastly, asking him what he thought he was doing, waiting so long.
It was so strange, to gain the smiles of nobles and the poor alike at his relationship. No one would dare to frown at someone The King had smiled upon, he supposed. Not even at such a controversial thing as his cross-species relationship was. Yes, some of the more rough of the poor would give him sideways glances, but never direct heckles or anything. The jealous glances of already married Batamon women and men alike was enough to fuel his pride and make him forget about the strange stares he would get every once in a while.
Now, after pondering for what was basically an eternity compared to everyone else, he planned to propose to her. Yes, propose. Not force her to marry, she could say no if she so desired. It had been a month since they met, and he felt like it was finally time to ask her about it. Marriage was the end goal here, and the two both knew it from the very start. She had even moved in with him after her parents gave him their blessings.
It was after his morning prayers and readings of holy manuscripts that he sat and truly, really thought about today being the day he asked her. Sitting on the wooden chair, he'd glance into the kitchen that the lounge could see directly into. She knew how to cook, as all women did, and she had been preparing breakfast. Though, something was strange about her. She didn't look as serene or undisturbed as she usually did.
"Something troubles you?"
He questioned, Niteō looking from her nearly prepared food to him. Her eyes were lined with an unnatural emotion that he hoped would never grace her. She was uncertain, maybe even slightly fearful. Not of him, no, but of something else. At least, that is what he hoped. She looked back down at the food, continuing her work solemnly.
"Please, will you tell me?"
Mullistus continued. To see her like this was indescribable, and not in a good way. She let a breathless sigh escape from her as she stopped her making of breakfast, then crossed to him into the lounge. She brushed a petal from her crown out of her face slightly, keeping her gaze on the floor as she sat across from him. She looked.. Guilty.
"I have concealed something from you. If you choose not to love me after I tell you, I will be more than understanding."
Oh, those words could mean a thousand things. He did not fear if she were not a virgin maiden, being of Waddle Dee, he didn't care much for concepts such as that— despite his avid following of The Stars and their laws. Mullistus let his expression be soft, as to show his inability to feel contempt towards her.
"Whatever it is, my lady, I am to assure you that my love will not falter. No matter what you may utter that you think will undermine it."
Niteō gained eyecontact with him, looking slightly more confident. She moved one of her silver hairs back into place before giving him an obviously forced smile. Her hair moved slightly, as if it were its own appendage.
"Then allow me to shake the foundations of it before you continue to love me."
With that, her hair split and stretched out widely. No, no, that was not hair. In fact, they were silver wings. Wings not of demon-like appearance, but of a bird's. At least, that's what he thought. The feathers were so precisely cut and torn to the point where it resembled long strings. He could not help himself but gasp at the sight.
The shoulders of Niteō's wings had been hidden cleanly underneath the crown she wore, disguised more by the flowers that adorned it. It even helped with her overall illusion. How she had managed to keep everyone, including him, thinking that she had silver locks this entire time was astonishing. He couldn't help but feel slightly sick at the sight. He still loved her, yes, and he would continue to love her despite this revelation. Winged Batamon were not treated nicely, much less ones with feathers. That is why they hid their wings from public view, or disguised them as Niteō did.
But really, at this point, was there anything that could possibly make the two's relationship any more strange or controversial?
"My lady.. It is an astonishing feature, yes, but it changes nothing."
Her wings folded to a more comfortable position, her smile gracing her once more. She nodded, about to leave back to the kitchen to finish breakfast. Now was the perfect time. Yes, now was perfect.
"It is of so little effect to me that, my lady, I propose you a question. Through this past month, I have hoped our feelings have become mutual on such a thing. Will you take my hand and become my wife?"
Niteō gasped, going wide-eyed before those same eyes went misty. Her smile became jagged, and she could not contain herself from leaping and tackling him with hollers of joy. She essentially knocked him out of the chair, and the two went crashing to the wooden floor below. What he wouldn't give to have a mouth so that way he could press lips onto hers.
Rather, she kissed all over his face, and he laughed huskily.
"There would be no higher pleasure, my love."
She finally spoke after deciding his face had been littered with enough of her pecking.
Chapter 2: Duo
Their marriage was a glorious one. It was like a prince and princess were getting married, because the entire kingdom decided to show up. Perhaps it was because The King himself decided to come down from his throne for attendance, which was an honor that Mullistus would never forget. His highness never showed up for anything, much less weddings. Mullistus didn't doubt that his might've been the first one his ruler had ever shown up to, ever. His imposing presence sent chills down the Waddle Dee's spine sometimes, it did.
The nobles weren't too happy about the commonfolk attending, but when the wedding was held in a proper glass-ceiling chapel with multiple floor for seats, they did not complain upon taking higher levels, away from the commoners. The wedding itself was religious in all respects, binding the two lovers together to become a constellation when they eventually went up to the stars. It went through all the motions, overseen by a religious figure, the vows were stated, all that.
A great post-wedding party was held for him in one of many fancy estates that the richer had. He could not hold such a party at his own home, seeing as how it was essentially the same size as a storage room. So, he was ever grateful that he was allowed to host it elsewhere. The King did not bless the party with his presence, but just having him be at the wedding was enough for Mullistus.
Jokes were thrown, toasts were had, and more than enough comments about 'progressiveness' were tossed around. The sort of comment that was honeyed and sugared, but were still poison underneath how nice they sounded. No matter how well respected he was, he would not be free from the more objective point of view, obviously. He knew this, and he disregarded it as he usually did.
When the party ended, the two lovers went back home, and consummated their joining. The next months were something like a blur. Niteō was still as wonderful as the first day he had met her, and the two enjoyed eachothers company when he did not have to go out and guard Star Dream, or the castle itself.
When the eventual war came around, his thoughts of her sitting by the window and stringing together bouquets or crowns of lilies to wear were enough to calm him. He'd think of her before going to sleep, pray for her happiness, then drift off. When he woke up, he'd pray for the kingdom's safety, then go off to battle. He never had a reason to want to go home from battle before now,— other than to be safe inside his home's walls, that is— and he was glad he had gotten something to look forward to when he returned.
The casual walks down the streets, through gardens owned by the rich, through private property he was allowed to be on.. The two talked for hours on end, through nice places and times. Then, they'd go home and sleep or Mullistus would be pulled away for a surprise shift on duty. No matter what, he was always so giddy to spend time with her.
Which, now, when Mullistus was not directly by her side, he was anxious. She had to be rushed to a healers for the process of childbirth, and he was told to wait outside whilst the process was handled by professionals and regular women. No man was allowed to witness the process of it, as The Stars stated, so he just had to wait patiently like a good boy.
The idea of the pain being too much for Niteō, and her being sent into the cosmos prematurely was not an idea that didn't come to him. But he rested assured that she was in good hands. He'd twiddle his thumbs if he had any. But for now, all he could do was sit there and listen to her screeching from the outside of the healer's building.
Was he excited yet fearful to be a father? Yes, yes, he was. Excited in thinking of if he had a son, how he could see his son grow up to become a strong warrior just as his father was. If he had a daughter, how she would grow to be just as elegant as her mother, and how she would catch the scandalous eyes of princes from all across the land. He really preferred to have a son. All fathers did, as to have a son meant your child could take on better things in life and have an opportunity to go to school.
Mullistus thought of his child, thought of him being a happy little thing. Spunky and somewhat mischievous, but always had the heart and mind to listen to his father. How his child would grow to be an avid follower of The Stars, to grow up valorous and loyal to their glimmering light. He would get his child to practice, to read manuscripts and pray. He would show his child the light of The Stars, and the wonders that their dust brought to everyone who lived in accordance to their commands.
He brought his nub of an arm to his temple, closing his eyes.. First, he prayed that his wife would be not ripped from him, then prayed for a child like one he had envisioned. He prayed, oh how he prayed. Just then, he heard his wife's screaming pitter down into nothingness. He didn't let anxiety sweep through him, he would just wait and pray.
Mostly pray, because that was able to obstruct his thoughts of horrible outcomes. He let his eyes open after a couple seconds, breathing a heavy, quaking sigh. He jumped to his feet from his sat position on the road as soon as one of the female healers came out of the building he leaned on previously. With a nod, she lead him inside of the hay-roofed building.
He was lead into one of the three rooms used for healing, his wife holding a small bundle of cloth and blanket in her arms as she rested on a bed. She looked quite frazzled and still a bit pained. Damaged feathers littered the room. Niteō's crown was placed on a bedside table, which also had a rudimentary cup of strange liquid on it as well.
The nurses tending to Niteō left the room to let the couple be alone. He couldn't help but notice how all of the nurses wore strange masks to conceal their identities. It was not out of the ordinary to wear masks during helping with childbirth, he had heard, but to actually see the masks themselves did not fail to unnerve him ever so slightly. Those masks had enchanting spells of binding speech on them. To never mention what happened during the birth was a sacred sort of thing, and no one trusted anyone to hold their tongues without magic biting down on it for them.
He approached the bedside, Niteō keeping her eyes glued on her child before shifting softly to look at him.
"What is it?"
Please be a boy, please be a boy..
She replied, soft as a whisper. She held the bundle so tenderly, yet so concealing that Mullistus could not see a single glimpse of the actual child himself. Just the cotton of the blanket. It was also strange how quiet the child was.. Weren't Batamon infamously loud as babies?
"May I, my lady?"
Niteō's expression shifted slightly. Guilty.
"Sit on the bed, my love, please."
She requested, and he followed her request accordingly. She gave a soft sigh, cuddling the blankets before handing the baby to Mullistus carefully. The baby's body was entirely covered, and only its face stood out to him. A serene, tiny little Waddle Dee face. The son's eyes were closed, but not because he was asleep. All Waddle Dees were born with closed eyes, so that they may open them in the coming weeks. To be there during the opening of the eyes was crucial for a parent.
"Ah, so he is Waddle Dee.."
He mumbled, slightly disappointed. Yes, the child would be quite the cute one when he grows, but that's most likely about it. Waddle Dees didn't live the most fantastic or exciting lives in the world. Well, there goes that idea of raising a soldier.
"Perhaps we will see if he has your eyes when they open."
He looked towards Niteō, who stared down at the blanket. Guilty.
"What is wrong, my lady? This son is a lovely one. I could not ask for more."
He could ask for more, but he was just satisfied with what he got that he wasn't going to. He turned his attention back to his son. So, so tiny.. Ah, he could only see his son's face. Perhaps he had the same steel body as his father? Mullistus carefully moved the blankets from the little Waddle Dee's forehead.
What he saw underneath the blankets made him have a heart attack. Well, it would've, if he had been older. No, the child did not have his father's steel casing. In fact, his child did not even have the typical Waddle Dee color. Or, even the extremely short fur of a Waddle Dee. There, beyond the typical markings of a Waddle Dee's face, was more skin. Skin of purpilish-pink, the a lighter color of what Niteō was.
This, however, was not the end. What had absolutely shocked him were the two slits on the child's forehead. Like a knife had gone and made an incision, but there was no gore to follow it. These slits were the signs that his child would grow horns. Mullistus was absolutely aghast. Pale, in fact, at the implications of this. His child was a hybrid.
His child was a Waddle Dee hybrid with horns. His gaze became stricken and dazed. No wonder Niteō had told him to sit down. He surely would've collapsed and dropped the baby on the floor had he been standing. Such a thing, such an impossibility is what he was holding. How could this be possible? Surely it couldn't have been!
"He is to develop wings such as mine as well."
Oh Stars, if he were not such a well rounded veteran of war, he would've fainted at Niteō's calm words. Such a child of extreme rarities, such a child of.. Of all these three things combined.. His child was the ultimate in absolute what was discriminated against. A conglomeration of all things seen as unwelcome in society. Mullistus let out squeaking wheezes.
How was he meant to keep this child? How was he meant to let his son grow properly to the world around him? Just having one of these traits was bad enough, but to have all three— much less having wings of feathers?! He couldn't help but think the worse possible things. He cursed this. He cursed himself for being so, so unlucky. Children were meant to be a blessing.
"I desire to name him Galacta or Ōminōsē, my love."
Mullistus could only nod.
Galacta was chipper, as Mullistus had begged The Stars for him to be. Granted, he was still but a baby. Two years old, about. Not old enough to do much of anything except squeak and play, and certainly not old enough for any real thoughts. Not old enough to question why bars of steel were put up around the windows, or why extra locks were added to all of the doors in the home.
Nor was he old enough to question what was outside the walls of the small home. Galacta was content to waddle around by his parent's feet, squeak, chirp, whatever. His adventures from the small dining room to the lounge was enough to keep him satisfied with himself in exercise. The hybrid's little horns were developing nicely, at least, that's what Niteō said. Mullistus trusted his wife's opinion, as she was born from a Batamon with horns. She surely knew a thing or two about them.
The small points of the horns were just starting to edge out of the slits in Galacta's head. They were orange and sharp, pointing towards Galacta's back. They were perfectly in line with the dark circles in where Galacta's wings were to sprout out of. Mullistus couldn't help but just stare at the hybrid as he ran around the house, catching his mother's attention and kisses.
Galacta had done nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing. Yet, he felt some sort of heavy sadness-induced contempt for the baby. It wasn't rage, no, it was something much more in the lines of downwards pity. He didn't hate his child. No, he didn't want to hate his child. It was his child, his lineage, his life that would eventually live on in Galacta. He couldn't hate Galacta. No, he refused to hate Galacta.
But yet, he sat in his chair with a most sour look on his face. He would lift it if Galacta's red eyes— who knows where he got those things from, seeing as how Mullistus's eyes were blue— caught his own, and only when Galacta looked at him did Mullistus realize he had such a look on his face.
Niteō would comment on it as well at times, telling him to "cheer up, my love" before giving him a kiss. It was usually Galacta who would always change his father's look, though.
Mullistus sighed, being caught again by his son. Galacta squeaked at him, slightly curious. Squeaks were usual for Waddle Dees, they were the more babyish thing to use to communicate to the outside world. Babyish in a sense that, if you could not silently speak to another, you would squeak. Yes, even adults squeaked at times. Mullistus squeaked at times. It's not like anyone grew out of it. So, Mullistus squeaked back at his child.
Galacta looked quite pleased at this, rushing over to his father and climbing up onto him. Mullistus was sat in a chair, but Galacta's skills at climbing were quite honed at this point. The child managed to get himself onto his father's stomach.
Mullistus pat the tot, wary of Galacta's little pinpricks on the top of his head. Galacta was a fairly big child. Already an inch and a half tall. Which, seeing as how the child's father was only seven inches tall and his mother being eight, meant he was decently big for his age. Another sigh escaped him as he looked past Galacta, and towards his wife. She was busy making lunch, of course, and he had nothing much to say to her right now.
He just let himself think. He wanted Galacta to be happy, at least somewhat. But to be happy and accepted, he would need to shed the things that would make him an object of public ridicule. The wings, the horns.. The face. Galacta had nothing going his way. Absolutely nothing. Mullistus simply had no idea what he could possibly do for his child. He shouldn't keep Galacta cooped up for his entire life. But.. He simply would have to. Galacta couldn't be allowed to go outside. Mullistus didn't want his child to be abused like some animal.
It's times like these where he wished there was a simple, absolute solution. In war, there was a simple solution. To guard things, that was simple. To love his wife, to bring in bread, to socialize with his richer friends, that was all simple. It was extraordinarily simple for him to do. But for once, things were not so straight and narrow. Galacta's very existence was a complication.
That's when he realized something.
"My lady," He grabbed Niteō's attention, "I am going out. I will take Galacta with me, hidden in blanket."
"Be safe, my love."
"Worry not, I'll be back before you finish your preperations."
With that, he picked up Galacta, moving towards the room he had fashioned into one for the little tot. There was kept a cradle that was a gift from his brothers in arms, along with gifts of all sorts from his other friends. The Waddle Dee snatched a golden trimmed blanket and wrapped Galacta up as if he were fresh out of his mother's oven.
With that, he scurried back to the front door, unlocked many of the bolts, and departed from his house after closing the door behind him. He scurried up the road, lined with houses similar to his, keeping his eyes on the castle that he worked in. It would only take maybe ten or so minutes to reach there on foot, not much. It wasn't like he was one to keep a steed or accept rides, and the exercise was always good for him.
He had no problem going through into the higher part of society. He was even greeted, waved at. He was stopped by some women who saw what he was carrying. Which, of course, 'aww'd and poked at Galacta's revealed face with their gloved fingers. They surely wouldn't have been doing that had they seen the rest of the child's body, of course.
When he had reached the castle's gates, he passed through easily. Then, he passed through one of the smaller, off sided entrances to the castle. His traversing through polished halls of black, red, and gold furnishings and walls of the actual interior of the castle was unquestioned. Everyone knew him, all the staff, all the guards. He could come and go as he pleased, even if he was off duty. The only one who ever would question him would be the The King's royal adviser. A skinny, strange looking thing not of Batamon or Waddle Dee. The adviser had been with The King when he had founded this great city, so his status was unquestionable.
Luckily, as he trekked down the tiled hallways and past gigantic portraits of classic mythos and of The King himself, he did not run into the adviser. Not that it was very hard to avoid the guy in the first place. Mullistus was just happy he didn't have to deal with the odd man or his dry and nasally way of speaking.
He approached one of his posts. Which, naturally, upon his appearance, swords and bows were drawn on instinct. Then, sheathed when his fellow men realized who he was. They guarded a door, an extremely tall one. One that could only be matched by the one that the main entrance to the castle was. It was grand and made of the strongest wood that money could afford to have shipped in. They were also exceedingly heavy, meaning the only way to open them was to push on them rather than pull.
"How goes it, Mullistus? You are not due here until tomorrow."
One of the soldiers greeted, obviously confused by the Waddle Dee being around.
"And what of that little thing you have in your arms?"
Another soldier continued.
"I wish to conference with Star Dream about my son. He is very confusing, to say it easily. I could not have disturbed my post tomorrow for this."
Mullistus explained, calmly. A couple of the guards came over to look at the child, checking to make sure it was actually there, he supposed. No harm in being cautious, even around him.
"You have clearance from The King, I trust?"
"Yes," He didn't, "and it will only take a moment."
With that, three of the ten guards standing watch at the door pushed on the wood. Slowly, surely, the room behind was revealed. It only needed to be opened enough for the Waddle Dee to slip in. Which, really, wasn't much. As soon as he could, he shimmied in through the crack of the door and into the containment room.
There, Star Dream stood. Unshifting, unblinking, and completely still. It's body was like that of a pillar, colored in white at its longer part and adorned with red symbols and decorative lines that flowed like liquid and glowed like fire. From Star Dream's body, wings not of bat or bird made themselves motionless. Star Dream's top was trimmed with black, and the ends of its wings followed the same idea with gold following right behind.
The entire room was scantily lit, somehow making the entire room colored blue, despite the fact that it was all clearly some sort of grey, polished rock. The room was entirely undecorated, and very, very large to accommodate Star Dream's height. Strangely enough, plants and vines seemed to somehow be making themselves home amongst some of the walls despite being trimmed and removed constantly.
This room was originally the cave Star Dream was discovered in. The King didn't dare to change the outcropping in the mountain's face, much less move the creature to somewhere more fitting. This is where The Stars had placed the creature, and it was content in the room regardless.
It's eye, bright and orange, began to glow brightly. It lit up the room entirely, and hurt Mullistus's own eyes to look directly into. So, he kept his gaze downcast, to show how unworthy he was.
It stated, voice strange and monotone. No one knew what this meant by that, but no one ever asked.
"Star Dream, I ask for your counselling. My child, he is born of Batamon and Waddle Dee. He has a face of mine, a body and wing of my wife's, and horns of her mother's. He faces a future life of scorn for his features."
He knew Star Dream probably already knew this, but he just wanted to reiterate in case the all-knowing creature had something else on its mind.
"I wish for my son to live a life free of discrimination, or at the very least some. That is why I am here, to request your intelligence in showing me how to assure such a thing is so."
It was silent for a moment.
"TAKE THE BLANKETS OFF OF THE CHILD AND PUT IT ON THE GROUND."
It commanded, and he did so. Galacta squeaked as he was unwrapped, wandering a little bit. Star Dream's gaze shot a yellow spider-web like pattern over Galacta, before disappearing in an instant. Star Dream's light suddenly hardened and came into shape. The shape dropped, clattering onto the ground infront of Mullistus.
"IT WILL GROW WITH YOUR CHILD'S SIZE IN TIME. IT WILL CONCEAL HIS FACE, AND TRANSLATE HIS SPEECH INTO WHATEVER LANGUAGE IS LOCAL TO WHERE HE LIVES. HE WILL UNDERSTAND ANYTHING THAT IS SAID TO HIM SO LONG AS HE IS WEARING IT. IT WILL NOT BREAK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE."
Mullistus picked up what had been dropped. A mask of pure white, with strange cat-like 'ear' parts on it. The wearer side seemed to have some strange material coating it. It was so, so small.. He tested it, putting it onto Galacta. A perfect fit.
"And what of-"
"THE HORNS AND WINGS CAN BE SIMPLY CUT OFF OR REMOVED ENTIRELY, SHOULD YOU REQUEST IT. I AM CAPABLE OF DOING SO AT THIS MOMENT."
Yeah.. He wasn't going to be doing that. He wrapped Galacta back up in the blankets, not bothering to remove the mask. It looked comfortable enough, and Galacta wasn't complaining about it either.
"No, no, that won't be necessary. Thank you for your gift and help, Star Dream."
With that, the light in its eye dissolved, and the only light in the room was the glow from the print on its body. Mullistus left as quickly as possible. He was pretty hungry now, from doing all this. He didn't want to have lunch get impatient waiting for him.
Chapter 3: Trēs
The seasonally occurring month-long war came about, and Mullistus was called off for duty along with many others. Yes, the kingdom was still heavily guarded— not to mention the castle didn't even seem to have changed its numbers in regards to how many Batamon patrolled its grounds— and the people were still safe should something manage to scramble over the mountains to attack the city directly.
Niteō missed his company; she always did. It was dreadfully lonely during the times he was gone before Galacta was born. But at least during those times where her child were nonexistent, she could go visit her parents or her old maiden friends from the shop. Now she was cooped up, because to leave Galacta unattended was a bad idea in and of itself. The home was filled with things that could be dangerous to such young children, should a child somehow manage to find said things.
So, she sat in the rocking chair left over by Mullistus's father and sewed. It was a way to pass the time, other than attempt to decipher the papers and writings that Mullistus kept around. Not a doubt in her mind, she knew all those papers were about one thing; the glorious path of The Stars. So, sewing, embroidery, crocheting and many other things along the same lines as those two were what Niteō used to pass her time.
That, and, of course, play with Galacta should he approach her. Which was so often that she could barely get any work done on a design she had been embroidering. He approached her, now, with his red eyes wide with boredom and wonder. He squeaked, then squeaked again to get her to put aside her personal project. He was just so cute.
"Galacta, you are as fine as a kitten's face, and distracting as so."
She chuckled, picking up her little pink hybrid into her arms. He squeaked, his little nub arms poking at her round face. A gentle smile, then she returned to her work with her— relatively sort of large— baby between her and her art. When Galacta had sighted the design, he squeaked in fear, pushing back into his mother.
"Ah, Galacta, it is Nihilvitae. It means you no harm, especially not in form of yarn."
She cooed, and he calmed down at her voice. Nihilvitae's form was frightening to children and to adults of sinister paths. It was a judge of one's actions, decider of whether they should join The Stars, or were to be lead into The Void. Niteō did not fear Nihilvitae's supposed monstrous appearance, she had nary a reason to. Which is why, naturally, she embroidered it so peacefully.
"However, Galacta, the needle will hurt you. Don't touch it."
Galacta's little hand was reaching for the sharp tip of the needle as she continued on with her creative project. Galacta's little stub was brought back into itself, and Galacta himself relaxed a bit more. Niteō could tell her child was bored still, even when he had something to look at. Perhaps her craft was not one that spectators would be very interested in watching.
She hummed a tune from her childhood softly, filling the void of discussion. Galacta was interested in the hum for a moment, then went back to being discontent with his surroundings. A child at his age shouldn't be so cooped up. Niteō had no memory of it, but her mother remarked on how often she would take Niteō into town with her whilst Niteō's wings were not even bumps.
Speaking of her mother, she was getting impatient. Three years of only half-truth descriptions of Galacta was not satisfying enough to the old woman anymore. Though she did not press herself to visit Niteō's residence without permission, any discussion would usually drift towards Galacta and being able to see the child. A thought crossed Niteō.
"Perhaps it would not be in bad taste to allow you to come out with me to see some of what's beyond these walls?"
She questioned, mostly to herself, aloud. Galacta let little noises of excitement out for her to hear, despite probably not fully understanding what she was saying. If her husband were here, he'd forbid the following actions out of pure paranoia. However, he wasn't here, neither did he need to know about this outing.
"To swaddle you now would be considered odd.. Your wings are but small bumps, easy to cover with an arm. Your face can be hid with the mask your father received. Your horns would be of no concern."
She mused, setting her project and Galacta down on the rocking chair. Galacta fumbled and dropped off the chair, regained himself, then trailed after her quickly. He followed her into his bedroom, where the child's white mask was hung upon the bedpost of the currently oversized single wooden bed. She snatched it, putting it onto his face.
How it managed to stay on, she didn't question. It had nothing that wrapped around the sides of Galacta's head to secure it onto the child's head. It just simply willed itself to stay.
Galacta's speech was translated, and oh how eloquent Galacta was in his speech. Niteō kept her chuckle to within her throat. Picking him up, she exited the room and thusly the house as well.
Yes, the streets were busy as usual. The house was in the residential part of the city, yes, but it was on the street that lead directly to the two larger markets. One to the north, and one to the south. Northwise was one that sold more expensive goods such as silk or spice (it was closer to the castle so this was appropriate) while the one south sold food, wood, or livestock. Niteō's flower business was in the southern market, it was much more homely there for her.
"Shall we get going then?"
She questioned, looking down at him. His horns were developing nicely over this past year. Very, very nicely, actually. They were almost done growing, infact. Maybe it was the Waddle Dee in Galacta that allowed him to grow his horns so quickly? That's just what she assumed.
Galacta chirped, taking in all the sights and sounds the actual outside world had to offer. As the two passed strangers, Galacta would stare and gawk. The strangers wouldn't make eyecontact with the child, but knew they had a child staring at them and continue on their way.
The two's path was uninterrupted, without any hitch. When a cart merchant drove by with a drawn carriage full of cagelings and other such things stuck between walls of bars, Galacta seemed to take interest, chirping and pointing at them until the cart had passed out of view. The boy was not getting a pet any time soon, if ever, unfortunately.
With the entrance into the southern market, the homely plaza was alive with the smell of bread and cooking meat. The chatter of others, the movement of ranch animals, feet shuffling on the stone tile. It was really a lot for a child to take in at once, but Galacta had no problem with looking everywhere his heart desired. Niteō kept her peaceful smile as she kept him from jumping out of her arms.
She passed by stalls, halting herself to let Galacta stare at the goods that were for sale, then moving forward towards her own place of employment. It was a stall as well, covered by baskets of exotic imported flowers and local flowers alike. Behind it was the only house in the entire market; her parent's. Which, they currently weren't home due to the fact that the two were out visit relatives.
Instead, her maiden friends worked, manned the stall and house to keep it safe from burglary.
"Niteō! You finally take your child out into the light of the sun, thank The Stars!"
Her blue skinned, yellow horned friend greeted, waving to her slightly after finishing tending the flowers. Niteō was tempted to let Galacta waddle around the stall, but she wasn't going to take her chances any time soon with a stranger seeing the child's back.
"It got her mother's horns. Perhaps it be a mage and locked itself in its crib until today, hmm?"
The fair green Batamon was snide, her melodious voice twisting from the foulness of her tone. Niteō let herself snicker.
"He knows no magics, dear friend. My husband believes it to be unwise to allow him to venture outside is all. He is off to war, so a little trip out of the house is due under his unseeing eye."
"You are quite the criminal, dear."
The mother lent herself to laugh in just volume at the blue maiden's comment.
"Suppose I may be."
She moved her hand to lightly stroke at the side of her fidgeting child's face.
"The mask," her green friend suddenly changed the subject, "why do you have such a piece of armor on your child?"
"My child has the face of an unsightly beast. One look would plunge the market into absolute chaos and unlawful violence, I'm afraid."
The two maidens laughed.
"Beast? Was he not made from you? How did he not get a face such as yours? You are some jest, dear!"
Oh, if only.
"If for only a second, I'd stop asking!"
Galacta whined, flailing his stubs at the wooden door in a desperate attempt. The child grew for three more years, and now had gotten the hang of using words. But, with his age, his wings had sprouted completely from his back. To make it worse, they refused to stop growing. Even now they were a tad bit on the large side, and they were much too blue to be considered hair or any other such thing. His horns reached their full lengths, and were ridged, even.
Mullistus was firm, assertive. He refused, he refused to let Galacta out of the sanctity of this house without his sayso. Not out of cruelty, but simply because he was horribly, horribly scared. A deep, guttural fear that raked him for the past six years, and most likely will rake him for so long as he lived in tandem with Galacta.
"Why? Why must I only look through curtained windows? Why can I not go out?"
Galacta's high pitched, squeaky voice showed his pain. His ache to go outside. He so desired want to go out, but even more so, Mullistus knew that the child wanted answers as to why he couldn't.
"Should you go outside, to be seen with wings like yours, with a face like yours.. Even the wandering travelers would love to dig their claws into you and rip you to shreds, Galacta. I only lock you because I do not wish that."
This was as plain as he could be without totally dumping the idea of bigotry on Galacta's young brain. Forthough, Mullistus saw no reason to shield Galacta from the ideas of cruelty. They were plentiful in the world and the sooner Galacta understood them the better, but he did not want Galacta to experience them firsthand or learn too much too quick. Not so young.
"But my face is hid! Why can I not hide my feathers?"
Galacta flapped them, showing his impatience. Mullistus sighed, loud, irritable. He looks off.
"You said the mask I wear was made by an all seeing creature! Father, take me to go see it! It would know what to do with my wings, should it be really all seeing!"
Mullistus held back some vile emotion that wretched up from him at the doubt that the creature was not actually one of perfect omniscience. It was if his child was some heathen, and he were a man who worked for the temples.
"I have asked Star Dream, and in it's light of perfect knowledge, it told me that it would sever the wings from your back. I could not allow that, Galacta."
Galacta gulped, hesitant.
"Perhaps it could figure something better now?"
Niteō spoke from the kitchen, eavesdropping. That vile feeling grew.
"I'll never mutter for the outside again, father, please!"
He knew how much of a lie that was, but he wanted some peace from the constant barrage of requests Galacta had. Even if it was only for a week at most or a day at least. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if there were some better toys on the market for Galacta to distract himself with..
"And for how long is never, Galacta?"
Galacta hesitated at the question, to which the metal Waddle Dee gave the best fatherly smile-like look he could muster whilst having no lips or visible mouth. He rose from his chair, Galacta moved away from the door as if he were cautious or in trouble.
"Just to see Star Dream, then. Pin your wings to your back."
Galacta did as he was commanded as the Waddle Dee went off to his own bedroom to grab an old blanket that would do the trick of covering up the child's back. It wouldn't hide the shoulders of the wings, they made slight bumps in the blanket as it sheltered the blue limbs. It was good enough, though. With simply tying the blanket around him, Galacta was set.
"Don't fall behind or loiter. Only speak to me."
Mullistus warned, his child nodding viciously. With one last look to his wife, he and the pink child set off on their way to the castle.
Galacta did exactly as he was instructed. He didn't fall behind, he held onto his father's hand. He didn't loiter, he simply gazed at things for long periods of time. Galacta took everything in that he could. Mullistus could hear the deep breaths of his hybrid abomination. Deep breaths of fresh, outdoor air that cleansed the lungs of weary travelers and provided health and longevity to citizens.
The air's pureness was also supposedly perfect for conducting powerful magics within, but Mullistus was not exactly a scholar of the arcane.
The entire walk to the castle was spent in dead silence. They walked, the father's face was forward, and if Galacta had not been holding his hand he was probably sure to forget Galacta was by his side in the first place.
Galacta was in awe of the palace upon entering. Despite wearing a mask that translated everything he said, he squeaked in amazement. A squeak was always still a squeak, no matter the language, Mullistus supposed.
"Who is that?"
Galacta questioned after passing one of the many portraits.
"The King. He rules over us, and he owns everything you tread on."
Mullistus drawled, disenthused.
Just a couple more hallways until he came upon the large door again. As he expected, swords were drawn from the guards, then sheathed. They questioned him, they looked at his son, then allowed his access to the creature once more. Galacta had hesitated then quickly followed behind his fearless father.
The cave-like room, its blue and dark interiors only lit by the creature's markings was having visitors once more. Mullistus could hear Galacta's breath stifle then reconvene after the hybrid grabbed onto his dad's stub.
Mullistus called, that familiar yellow from the creature's eye bathing him in it's ever judge-less light.
Emotionless speech. It was the most impartial thing to ever exist, no doubt.
"My son's wings are refusing to stop their growth. Even a large cape cannot keep them properly hid."
He explained, the creature went quiet for a moment.
"IT HAS BEEN TWO THOUSAND, EIGHT HUNDRED THIRTY-SIX DAYS SINCE YOUR LAST VISIT, WHICH YOUR PREVIOUS INQUIRIES INVOLVED HIS WINGS. THE MOST PRACTICAL APPROACH IS TO SURGICALLY REMOVE THEM FROM HIS BODY. I CAN PUT HIM UNDER POWERFUL ANESTHETICS AND REMOVE THEM MYSELF, IF YOU PERMIT IT."
If Mullistus had a lip, he'd be biting it.
"And what of the less practical options?"
It didn't even hesitate.
"THERE EXISTS A CLOAK KNOWN AS THE 'DIMENSIONAL CAPE', MADE OUT OF THE FABRIC OF SPACE TIME. IT'S UNDERSIDE CAN ABSORB ANY ATTACK OR OBJECT INTO A PRIVATE VACUUM OF SPACE. IT WOULD BE CAPABLE TO HIDE YOUR CHILD'S WINGS WITHOUT FAULT."
Oh. Well, that sounded perfect! How was that less practical?
"And where can one find this cape?"
"IT IS WORN BY AN ANCIENT SORCERER WHO VALUES NOTHING. HE TAKES OUT HIS EMPTINESS IN DESTRUCTION AND MASS EXTINCTION."
Nothing a war couldn't fix, right?
"Where is he?"
Star Dream hesitated. It left an awkward air with how long they took. Mullistus glanced down at Galacta, who was just entranced by the way Star Dream glowed.
"FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY-FIVE MILLION, SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY-TWO THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED NINETY-FIVE ASTRONOMICAL UNITS AWAY."
"EXTREMELY FAR IN THE DEEP REACHES OF SPACE."
Mullistus sighed. There goes that. He didn't want to remove Galacta's wings, it just felt wrong, even if it would leave Galacta better off. The Waddle Dee faced his child, defeated.
"Was this enough?"
Galacta wasn't scared, but his voice shook with just how excited and jittery he was. It was almost cute.
"Thank you for your advice, Star Dream-"
"UND- NO. WAIT."
Mullistus would've jumped out of his skin at the loud command had he not been hardened by war to such scares. He was a bit on edge, though.
"YOUR PREVIOUS INQUIRY WAS TO MAKE YOUR SON LOOK MORE LIKE A BATAMON."
"BATAMON DEVELOP HANDS UPON REACHING ADOLESCENCE. YOUR SON WILL REACH THAT AGE OF DEVELOPMENT IN SEVEN TO EIGHT YEARS. I WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH SOMETHING TO HIDE HIS LACK OF APPENDAGES."
That spiderweb from years ago covered Galacta again, then disappeared. A couple of seconds, then light combined itself in the air to form gloves. Gloves of white, the same sort of white as Galacta's mask. They dropped to the floor much like any other pair of gloves would. Galacta rushed over to pick them up. They were a bit big for him right now. In fact, they were huge. Much, much bigger than any Waddle Dee stub that Mullistus had seen.
"THEY ARE OUTFITTED WITH THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY. ONCE THEY ARE PUT ON, THE FINGERS OF THE GLOVES WILL ACT LIKE MUSCLES. HE WILL BE ABLE TO USE THEM AUTOMATICALLY."
Mullistus was truly blessed with Star Dream's generosity.
"I-I am eternally grateful.. Thank you, Star Dream."
With that, the light was off in the creature's eye, and the room was plunged back into its dark blue. Galacta was fiddling with the gloves, looking inside of them and what not.
"Father, what is Star Dream? I know it is knowledgeable-"
He was not bothering to look up from the gloves.
"A creature of infinite knowledge and power, sent down from The Stars above to guide mortals."
"Then why is it stuck in here if it is meant to help us?"
"The King keeps it here to protect it from all the other kingdoms who wish to steal it and use it for evil. You see how it was able to create objects out of light? How it can make powerful and useful things? In the hands of scum, that could go to criminal use."
Galacta seemed saddened, but satisfied by that.
"Galacta, heed me. If you ever have the chance to see Star Dream, you will not do so without my presence."
The child nodded. He didn't look his father in the eye.
Chapter 4: Quattuor
Mullistus let out a soft sigh as he sat up in bed. His wife dozing soundly behind him, he figured to reflect or space out before he got up for the day. His blue eyes looked down at his stub, completely shiny and perfect. Not a single scratch on its metal. Ah, the wonders of being a Waddle Dee.. Instant healing properties. Not that he really made much use of them, being practically invulnerable.
Niteō's wings bumped against his body gently and lazily. He hated the idea that she had to cut her own feathers just to blend in, to take a blade even somewhere close to herself.. He hated the idea, but he couldn't do much, could he? If she wanted to blend into society and pretend she were a regular Batamon, she had to do it. He had no say in it. It wasn't his place.
Her wings were still soft, as any other feathered creature's wings would be. As he placed his stub on one of the feathers, Niteō folded them more inwards as if on instinct. Then, she relaxed and allowed him to continue his poking. It was a shame these things made a Batamon automatically worse off in life. Except for in battle. That's the only place assets like these were accepted, he knew.
Thinking of battle, he thought of Galacta. Eight years old now, old enough to start training as a soldier. Old enough to request to become one of The King's guards in the future. Mullistus had taken the path of a soldier at a similar age, and now he was a valuable asset in war and a respected member of society. Perhaps if Galacta worked at it, the child could achieve the same earned privilege as his father had.
But there was a key difference between the two. Mullistus was essentially immune to anything anyone threw at him. Calvary, boulders, magic, arrows, swords, nothing hurt him. He was made out of metal. Galacta? Skin. Mullistus was sure that he would be defeated by nothing except time. He couldn't say the same for his child.
Mullistus was to ensure that his spawn was not to pass to The Stars upon the first war the child were to fight in. Though, by then, Galacta would be armed with ten years worth of combat training. Ten years was nothing to scoff at, and infact, most other kingdoms only trained their soldiers for months before they sent them off into battle. That's what he had heard, anyways.
Mullistus couldn't help but worry, though. Who was meant to train his child how to fly? All the winged Batamon hid themselves and he seldom saw any of the few winged military ever fly out of combat or train others to do so. Perhaps he'd cross that bridge once he got there. Surely he'd find a way. Somehow. With wings like his, Galacta would make himself a powerful flier. He would have to.
Galacta's wings had grown more over the past two years. The shoulders now reached above Galacta's head when the things were folded. They showed no signs of stopping, either. Galacta would complain about how heavy the blasted things were and about how sore they often were. From the unuse they were sore, obviously. Niteō would coo to him about it, saying how he'd "get used to it" as time went on, and that'd be it.
Galacta had become rather well behaved, actually. His previous years of constant whining were dissolving as he grew older. He became a bit more reserved, quiet. Mullistus can't say he didn't appreciate the fact that his son had become quieter. Though the chipperness from Galacta was dissolving as well. He spent more time looking out the barred windows with his wings opened and lowered in such a way that passerbys couldn't see.
Mullistus could tell the boy ached to go outside.
The Waddle Dee departed from his bed. He left Niteō to continue her laze of full conscienceness with her eyes closed. He waddled over to Galacta's room, knocking on the door, and receiving no answer.
He spoke, firm. He got a sleepy, annoyed squeak from the other side of the door. Twisting the handle, he entered the modest bedroom. Sure enough, the child was still in bed. His wings were outstretched, going over the side of the bed so that way Galacta could actually put his head on his pillow without the shoulders of the feathered banes pushing him down from the headboard.
Mullistus jumped up onto the bed, sitting down and letting his legs dangle.
He playfully shook the hybrid. Galacta grunted and drew his wings in slightly. Galacta squeaked, asking what the man wanted in Waddle Dee. Galacta's eyes were still closed, wanting to go back to sleep, no doubt. It was still early morning.
"I want to talk to you about something."
Galacta grumbled at that, stirring and reaching for his mask. Mullistus grabbed it for him and handed it over. A simple exchange of hands and it was on Galacta's face.
Galacta's translated voice was still childlike. High pitched. It was cute, really.
"I want to talk to you."
He repeated now that Galacta could understand him. Galacta grumbled something to himself, folding his wings and sitting up. Galacta looked towards his father with a mixture of grogginess and something indecipherable.
"You are old enough to start training for the army. Do you-"
Galacta's eyes shot wide.
"Yes! Absolutely! Father, please..!"
He grabbed onto Mullistus as if he were clinging onto dear life. Even Mullistus wasn't this happy when he was told he was old enough to start training. Galacta's wings were practically flapping from excitement.
"When do I start? When, father, when?!"
"When the birds start singing? The morning ones? When the sun rises? Father-"
He kept himself from practically shouting the command and Galacta calmed all the same. Mullistus let himself chuckle. Galacta was extremely enthusiastic, a nice change from his recent behavior.
"W-Will I train in the castle's walls?"
Mullistus thought back to his time when he trained. Yes, that was certainly the case for him. He didn't think it'd be different Galacta, had the child been born with different assets. Honestly, Mullistus was still wondering if the child would even be allowed to join the army, what with his wings. The King wasn't exactly.. The biggest fan of winged Batamon.
"Perhaps, but conclusions shouldn't be jumped onto. We'll see after I bring you to be appraised by The King."
Galacta hugged his dad at that. A long, long hug. It took him half a second, but he returned it.
The rest of the morning, brightness had seeped into Galacta's red eyes. Even behind the mask, he could tell the little hybrid was ecstatic. As happy as ever, possibly even rivaling his happiness as a toddler. He was practically vibrating during breakfast and while he had to wait for his father to finish up his food.
Niteō expressed her worry through silence and glances. She was oh so tentative, she didn't even need to ask what was going to happen to understand. He would catch her eye and the exchange of his soft glance with her worried one (he hoped) would sate her. However, when the Waddle Dee joined Galacta by the door, he could hear her breath hitch as if she were about to say something.
She didn't. Her eyes were locked on Galacta's wings as Mullistus unbolted and opened the front door.
Galacta practically dashed out the door. Mullistus barely had time to grab the boy by his hand, refraining him from going into the street. Even now, people were staring. Staring at Galacta, at the wings. At the wings that were out in the open, big and boisterous. Bold. Disgusting. Mullistus didn't look for any approval of the strangers.
Mullistus closed the door behind him before tugging Galacta close to him. Just a couple minutes walk to the castle. No one would dare approach a person like him with insults of who followed beside him. No one would dare approach him. They were more than happy, of course—
"Disgustin' feathered thing. Havin' its wings out for everyone to gaze."
"Dreadful. No knowing of public decency.."
"Rip them off."
— to say their insults loudly from the other side of the street as he walked. Mullistus ignored it. He ignored all the side eyes Galacta got and faces twisting in revolt. The best the two could do was to walk. Walk, walk until the streets cleared as they reached the upperclassmen. At least then, there would be less people to comment on Galacta.
That's exactly what happened. The nobles raised their noises, their glares still just as poisonous as the working men. The friends he had made within the rich, they kept their smiles as they passed by Mullistus. He was no fool. He could tell just by looking at the wealthy Batamon that rage licked at their insides and threatened to tear through that serene, graceful, and respectable attitude.
Only by the time that Mullistus had reached the castle's gates did he notice how pressed Galacta was up against him. Only then did he realize the child's wings were trembling from the sheer amount of force Galacta was exerting to keep them pinned to his body. Galacta was scared. The world was a scary place.
If The King rejected Galacta, this would be a good lesson as to why the child wasn't let out. But really, Mullistus wasn't planning on having that happen. A soldier with the capability of flight and magic? There is no way he could be rejected.
A few conversations and a bit of nonexistant elbow grease, and Mullistus was able to get a sparing five minutes in audience with The King. He had earned a smile from the ruler. What Mullistus wanted, he got.
The throne room, large, somewhat empty and foreboding. Dark. Dark, yet torches lined the walls and two lighting fixtures hung from the ceiling. It was still dark. So, so dark. Mullistus didn't doubt the architecture. He'd say the darkness was done on purpose. To intimidate. To make others kneel before a king who cloaked his full figure in shadows.
That's exactly what Mullistus and Galacta did.
The King's face was indecipherable amongst the harsh shadows. Only the man's hands could be seen. Powerful, large, and gripping onto the arms of his encrusted throne. The knuckles were cracked with dryness, the fingernails jagged from wearing on something. Every other finger had at least one large, golden ring on it. The King was not pale in any capacity. The was of some dark, dark skintone. Not exactly pure black, but an extreme, deep red sufficed.
The King was no Batamon or Waddle Dee. Any child could tell. Galacta could tell, and Mullistus could tell the child was shivering from fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of whatever creature The King was.
His royal adviser was much more welcoming looking. Though, his species was also unknown. Lanky and skinny, he stood fully in the light. The King's low rumbles that were seen as 'speech' were contrasted by the high pitched voice his adviser had. Dressed properly and of light red skintone (or perhaps it was fur), his hands were like spears. The actual skin was contorted in such a way that if the man lacked nails, the fingers would still be seen as claws.
"Mullistus, your case. Not much time, you know."
The lankey man spoke, holding scrolls and documents under his arm as if he had somewhere else to be. Mullistus rose from his kneel, giving a salute. He looked to where he knew The King's head were to be.
"Majesty. To those who wish to join your military, they are allowed to start their regiment at the eighth year of life. My son, he is at the proper age. He is capable of speech, fluent. He obeys, he is proper and dignified to command."
None of it was untrue.
"His assets, frowned upon, prove themselves to be hypothetically invaluable. Such as my metal body is a priceless trait, such is his combination of potential flight and learning of the arcane."
The King's left hand tightened around the arm of the chair. The knuckles turning soft and as white as they could be with such a skin.
"When I had offered him the idea to serve you, he jumped and asked when the earliest he could start was. He is willing. Very, very willing. I ask for you to allow him to serve you."
Mullistus could feel a nervous sweat and face pale as the silence lasted for two agonizing seconds. They felt like minutes.
"Only because he is your son. No other reason."
The adviser nodded, adjusting the scrolls to be more comfortable and less likely to fall.
"There is no room for him in the castle grounds. You will be entrusted to train him yourself, which be no trouble for you. Clever enough in the ways of war, any pupil would be lucky to have a mentor such as you."
"Where am I to-"
"You can still use the training grounds, yes. Simply, there is no bed in the barracks."
Ah. That made sense. Well, he didn't like the idea of Galacta being alone amongst other regular Batamon. Who knew what would happen? Mullistus was glad he'd never have to find that out. The lack of beds was a blessing in disguise.
"Off. I trust he'll be as skilled as you or better when we send him."
Ten years to train his child. That was more than enough time. Mullistus was top of his class, and to train one to become just as good as him.. Yes. He would have no problem. Mullistus gave his bow, grabbed Galacta by the stub, then dragged the petrified hybrid out of the throne room.
The first week was harsh. Galacta's muscles were underdeveloped and almost all exercises left him out of breath and panting within half a minute. Wing exercises deemed themselves to be especially challenging. Just stretching his wings out to their full capacity and keeping them like that for long periods of time made Galacta tremble and collapse.
They hadn't even gotten to any actual battling. Infact, if Mullistus remembered from his own days of training, the entire first year was just building muscles for battle. Mullistus couldn't remember being this incapable at basic exercises, though. Perhaps it didn't carry down through genes.
He commanded, watching as the child did as he was told. He returned into a position where his stubs held him slightly above the ground in a pushup-like stance. His wing, limp on the ground, shook and forced itself up, straining to be as open and horizontally out as possible. Mullistus knew little about wings, but he did know that in order to fly properly, one would most likely need the ability to have the things fully opened.
"It won't as you get better and stronger."
Mullistus advised. The pain was necessary. Without it, how would one know that they were getting better? Pushing their body to a limit, then being able to overcome said limit, pain was needed. It was never going to be easy. The sooner Galacta learned that, the better.
"Your other, now."
The outstretched wing flopped down as if a weight had been dropped on it. The other opened, Galacta whined almost pitifully. Mullistus could see Galacta sweat, and if the white mask were off, he was sure Galacta was probably pale as well.
It only took him a couple seconds before he dropped from the position again. Mullistus sighed.
"F-Father.. My wings.."
They were going to be extremely sore the following morning. Not as sore as feathered things were from the first time Mullistus had Galacta do the stretch, but still sore nonetheless. Mullistus waddled close to Galacta and put the child onto his feet. His wings drooped and refused to fold, being limp on the training ground's trimmed grass.
"Still so weak. It'll be gotten over that with exercise."
He rubbed the top of Galacta's head, between the horns. Galacta was solemn, looking slightly down. Guilty of being weak.
"Once I prove to be strong, will mother teach me to fly?"
Galacta mumbled. Mullistus cringed slightly.
"No, for she cannot. Her wings are very damaged. I do not think she can fly even if they were not."
Galacta was silent.
"Even if she could, it is dangerous to fly. You know of how people look at you, how they speak of you just when you are walking by. That is even when I am by your side, Galacta. If you were to fly, you would be without me. It is dangerous. You cannot practice flying, at the very least for now."
"When The Stars come out.. Why not then?"
Yes, the nights were lovely, but even with The Star's light..
"It is still dark. Poor eyesight, and even in the night, people still lurk. Sometimes, those with even worse intentions than the people who insult you. It is just as dangerous, possibly even more."
Galacta huffed, disappointed. He would speak of it no further for today, at least.
Chapter 5: Quīnque
Galacta's talent for silence grew over the years. His reserved demeanor was hardened and exemplified during his time at home. It lingered over training, though his unwillingness to speak to his own father was not exactly unwelcomed. The less talking, the more time to exercise. The more time to actually do something useful. The more time to prepare and hone skills.
The few times Galacta now spoke, his voice was sullen like an old man. Depressed. Tired. Like he wasn't doing anything valuable in his life and that idea was pressing into his mind so hard that it came out with how his voice sounded. His tone was riddled with it, but the actual development of his pitch was going well. The child like squeak was fading into an appropriate base-y baritone. Soon, perhaps, it would sound even more mature than Mullistus's own.
The twelve year old son still grew, not stopping for even a day. The past four years had allowed Galacta to be able to stand eye to eye with his mother, and tower over his father by two inches. That wasn't even counting the height of his wings, still developing as well. If anyone were to look at Galacta, they would be sure that he was an adult. Not a child.
The muscles that had developed had been proving enough to keep most from heckling Galacta on the street. Key word being most. Mullistus still walked with Galacta to the training grounds, and he was sure that was what kept most people from beating his child right there on the road. The presence of an official guard usually kept people from doing such things.
Galacta's muscle was impressive, considering all he had was stubs for arms. Though, as of late, he seemed to be using those gloves that Star Dream had gifted him so many years ago. How long ago was it? Mullistus couldn't remember. Regardless, the gloves were being grown into. Though they were slightly still too big, they could still be used.
The application of the false hands was incredibly useful for the different weapons guards were trained to wield. Spears, swords, bows, etcetera. Galacta took to all of these things like a fish to water, even without the gloves on. He could operate anything like a master, so long as he had enough days to practice with it. His agility and swordsmanship was surprising, especially considering how the child started out.
Though, almost half of his training was complete. Mullistus had almost expected no less from a spawn of himself. Even if the wings were heavy and large, Galacta seemed to have gotten used to carrying them around by now. He moved with such quickness that even if Mullistus tried to strike at his child's wings whilst they were outstretched, Galacta was still able to dodge and parry him.
The light footed quick moments were such a deep contrast to his way at home. His unmoving nature, how he would look out upon windows for hours without saying anything, only moving to adjust his position. Sometimes Galacta would even sleep at the window sills. Mullistus could hardly even tell the boy was sleeping without peering over into the mask's visor, seeing the lack of red eyes through the strangely produced blackness. When Galacta had his eyes closed, one could tell. Asleep? The eyes were completely gone.
When Galacta wasn't asleep, training, or looking out windows, he'd restlessly pace about. It was typically within the early mornings, when Mullistus was sure that Galacta thought no one else was up. Very, very early. Mullistus— whilst reading The Star's writings— would hear the boy from his room, walking, walking in circles. The floor under him would creak repeatedly. Then, on some occasions, Mullistus would hear a loud crack of snapping oak.
The damages had been littered throughout the house. Galacta managed to do it sometimes without anyone even noticing. He'd punch the walls, leave holes. The holes were decently sized and fairly impressive, but it left a sour feeling in the back of Mullistus's mind as he'd look at the new ones that'd randomly appear. The Waddle Dee knew Galacta wouldn't, but what if those punches fell upon himself— or worse, Niteō?
He could tell that the proof of aggression frightened her, despite how she held herself like nothing bothered her. He could see the way her hands would sometimes shake while knitting, occasionally glancing at Galacta, who was unmoving at the nearby sill. Mullistus hated that concept. Hated the way he'd see slight hints of fear in her eyes while looking upon her own son. It was repressed by logical reasoning, obviously, but it was still there. Animalistic.
Mullistus, at times, could even feel some similiar feeling boil inside of him. Fear. He knew better. He knew how to control it, but it was still there. It grew in tandem with Galacta's distancing. It grew as the child's eyes became more cutting and.. Monstrous looking. Like enemy blades, half drawn. That's what he felt Galacta's eyes were like. Galacta was like some sort of creature, restraining itself from its violent inherent desires. It scared him.
He thought it over, how he'd twitched under his child's side eye. The slight, small twitch. Unnoticeable to all but himself.
He spoke, simple. It was a request, but it did not seem like one.
Mullistus could only nod.
Chapter 6: Sex
Bars. Locks. It wasn't meant to keep out the outside world. It was meant to keep him in. What else would it be used for? No going outside. Never, never to go outside unless father was near. The bars kept him from breaking the windows and running off, the locks kept him from escaping silently in the night with the way they rattled so loudly.
Every single piece of furniture in this forsaken home made him long to go outside. To learn how to fly, Stars, do anything except sit and watch things from inside the house. But as much as he twitched anxiously, he didn't. He didn't just run off and do whatever he wanted, because he was smart enough to deduce that this place was not one for him.
This place, this valley. He needed to be somewhere else, somewhere where he didn't have the threat of people. But he simply couldn't have that, could he? Where else was there in the entire world except this valley? This house? His father had told him nothing when he went to fight in wars, so as far as Galacta knew, the world just ended right outside of the mountains.
Travelers were proof that such a concept wasn't the case, but he really couldn't imagine much outside of here. This was hailed as the place 'The Stars personally blessed'. If this was blessed, he didn't want to see cursed. He'd never want to see cursed.
Galacta's wings twitched. It was night. The streets were near empty except for a few wandering citizens. Galacta wasn't tired. When he did absolutely nothing all day, it was hard to exhaust himself. Which was a shame, because whenever he slept, he could do whatever he wanted. Dreams of beauty, of flying, of battles, of anything. Anything. They never involved his father.
Flying. Galacta would fly above the grey clouds to a place higher than The Stars. He would fly somewhere ethereal, indescribable where the air around him glowed like crystal, and time was nonexistent. His wings would crack like thunder, powerful and cool as he flew. Then, he'd wake up and only get to look at the sky from the windows.
His mother couldn't fly. He'd asked her, she didn't know how. How was Galacta meant to be as useful as possible if he couldn't even fly? Then, like a sudden striking on a cord, an idea. Galacta checked, making sure his gloves were on properly before he headed towards the door.
'Galacta, heed me. If you ever have the chance to see Star Dream, you will not do so without my presence.'
That's what his father had said. Well, father was asleep, and it was considered rude to wake people from slumber. He slipped from the sill, nearing the door of rusty locks. He would get them to be silent as much as he could with just a bit of effort.
Galacta's wings shook from excitement. Then his whole body shook out of the same thing. Fear didn't dare to cross his path until a second had passed. Fear of what his father said of others. Of how they would tear into him if even just his wings were seen. The fear passed quickly. With how he looked, no one would dare to step to him.
The street, lit by the odd lamp and The Stars, awaited him. He joined it, closing the door securely behind him. He knew the path to the castle by now. He needed no help, he could use all the shortcuts to get there as soon as possible.
The cool night air, new and refreshing was almost intoxicating. He took long, deep breaths of air. It was so nice. It was so nice to be outside without anyone by his side. Soon, Galacta figured, this would become regular. Soon he'd be doing this nightly. That's what he planned, what he hoped.
Galacta gazed up at The Stars, the two moons, and the three planets that the sky held. So pretty.
It wasn't long before he'd passed a shady character. Nothing came of it. The second, however, turned out to be quite a bit more interesting. This second character, a Batamon without wings or horns, drew a dagger upon Galacta. It was small, most likely stolen.
There was barely even a fight. Not one of any significance, anyways. A few slashes to Galacta's mask, a couple of poorly aimed stabs that hit nothing but air.. There was one slight cut that managed to hit him across the side of his arm, but it was so minor that it didn't even draw anything. Just a slight sting. The dagger seemed to be extremely dull, too.
The part most notable is when Galacta managed to pin the assaultant onto the street. For, once pinned, Galacta laid into the man something unlike ever seen before. Oh, how Galacta's fists flew like birds of prey on a summer day's hunt. Fast, precise. There was no let up. There was no time to take a break. Galacta deposited the frustrations he'd usually save for the walls of his home straight to the man's round face.
Then, as simple as that, Galacta got up and walked off as soon as he was satisfied. It was like nothing had even happened. Which, honestly, nothing really did happen. Just a brief stop from his trip to the castle, really. The rest of the shady Batamon gave him looks, but were unnotable.
With his approach, he was stopped by the guards at the gate of the palace. Naturally.
"Son of Mullistus."
That's all they said before they let him in. No questions asked. Perfect. He let them stare daggers at his back as he passed through the gates. Even guards were not impartial, he learned.
Galacta was so lucky to be blessed with a good memory. He remembered the exact path he had taken.. Four or so years ago? Oh well, the exact year didn't matter. All that mattered is that he remembered the path there. Most of the telling landmarks were still around in the castle's halls. Like that inparticular huge portrait of The King.
Ah, the large door.. It made him bristle with anticipation. The guards here drew their spears upon him, triggerhappy. Galacta noted how one of them was a Batamon with wings of scales and webbing. Dragon-like.
"I am son of Mullistus. I wish to conference with Star Dream."
Their weapons did not lower. Galacta kept his temper to himself. He better have not come all this way just for them to deny him access.
"Asleep in home."
"He had told us that if you were to be sighted without him to shoo you."
It took a bit to not let his anger show in his eyes at that. His father anticipated his potential arrival here, warned these guards of him..
"My father grows incapable of teaching me properly. He has no ability to fly, thus he cannot tell me how. Star Dream's infinite knowledge, that is the only thing capable that I know of. For not even those with wings and round bodies such as myself," Galacta looked towards the Batamon with those draconic wings, "will agree to help."
The Batamon's weapon lowered. A gruff noise from them, rolling of eyes, and a silent motion of hand. The others withdrew themselves to the door, pushing it open a sliver for the hybrid.
"To teach how to fly," That same Batamon spoke up, "it takes days. You will have to come back multiple nights for this."
"I had figured."
He had hoped. Now, shimmying between the crack of the door, he was totally alone before the glowing column. Star Dream was still just so magical to look at. The way its stripes and symbols glowed, how they shifted in color..
He let himself stare. Star Dream let him, too. Just a couple seconds of silent staring, enraptured by the amazing colors Star Dream displayed for him. He managed to squeak out after a bit.
He mumbled. Life beamed itself into Star Dream's eye, and the room lit.
It was graced with some awkward bit of silence as Galacta became humbled before the creature, wings twitching out of anxiety. He felt like he was a child before the column.
"M-My father is incapable of teaching me to fly.. Will you?"
That simple word meant everything to him. That simple, simple word that he desired so much to hear had graced his ears and brought him joy that he hadn't felt in a while. He let his wings flap out of pure chipperness.
"You will? You will?"
He asked, his somewhat deep voice going high from just how excited he was.
"IF THAT IS WHAT YOU REQUEST, THEN I WILL TEACH YOU TO FLY. SHOULD YOU ASK FOR ME TO TEACH YOU HOW TO USE YOUR MAGIC, I WILL DO THAT AS WELL."
He could use magic? Star Dream would teach him how to use magic and fly?
"HE IS NOT TRAINING YOU TO YOUR FULL CAPABILITIES. HE IS NOT THE SAME SPECIES AS YOU."
"Could you train me, Star Dream..?"
The idea was nonsensical. Even Galacta thought it was kinda dumb now that he had said it out loud. Star Dream probably couldn't even move, much less teach him how to fight properly.
"YES," It spoke, "I AM MORE THAN CAPABLE."
Galacta was blinded by the new ideas flooding through his head. Blinded by unadulterated jittering happiness.
"When? When do we start?"
"WHENEVER IS PREFERABLE."
"YOU ARE PROGRESSING WELL."
Star Dream noted, shutting off the 'hologram'. The thing that had been fighting Galacta so viciously had disappeared from the air in a blink of an eye. Galacta huffed and wheezed, trembling and beaten. He felt something jab into his back, his pain fading instantaneously before what had poked him withdrew. A needle, as Star Dream had called it.
Galacta could already feel his wounds closing. It made him feel woozy as he got to his feet. His lance and shield (provided by Star Dream, of course) still in his hands. He moved for his mask, which had been placed far from the place of battle to keep it from scratches. Star Dream had requested it.
"A year and I cannot beat you.."
Galacta mumbled with mask upon face, crestfallen.
"YOU NOW PUT UP A DECENT FIGHT. BEFORE NOW, YOU COULD BARELY MANAGE TO STEP BEFORE THEY'D DEFEAT YOU. YOU COULD NOT FLY. IT IS PROGRESS. AN EXPONENTIAL GROWTH FORMULA STARTS OUT SMALL, THEN ACCELERATES."
Star Dream spoke with such weird riddles sometimes. Who was he to judge the creature, though? The positive reinforcement was.. Well, it was nice. Nice to have. Very, very nice.
"YOUR SCARS ARE YOUR PHYSICAL PROOF OF PROGRESS, ADMIN."
His face, as he had seen, was practically covered in the things now. Burns, slashes, bites, all sorts. They decorated his face like flies on a fallen foe. It made him look kinda cool. Okay, it made him look cool. His Waddle Dee face wasn't exactly the most intimidating without the things, so having a bunch of scars would be testament to the foes he fought. Even if no one really saw his face nowadays.
Galacta stretched his wings absentmindedly.
"I believe if I got started on magic, I'd stand more of a chance."
Star Dream was silent for a moment before multiple books materialized from their golden light. The books dropped to the floor in a perfect, orderly stack. Galacta looked at them as if they were alien devices.
"ALL MAGIC YOU ARE CAPABLE OF WILL BE IN THOSE."
Galacta picked up one of the books. It was certainly.. Well, it was strange how it was made. He had only ever seen one book in his life, and it most certainly did not look like these did.
Galacta would've rubbed the back of his neck if he had one.
"..I am incapable.."
"THEN I WILL TEACH YOU."
Galacta was strong enough to not cry from the gifts Star Dream had given him, and the gift of reading was to be no different.
"Thank you, Star Dream. I.."
Galacta held himself from what he was going to say.
"I am unworthy."
"IF YOU WERE UNWORTHY, YOU WOULDN'T BE GIVEN MY HELP IN THE FIRST PLACE. YOUR POTENTIAL IS ASTONISHING, ADMIN. IT WOULD BE AN ERROR TO LET IT GO TO WASTE."
Astonishing potential.. Worthy..
"Let us get back to the training. Once more."
Galacta discarded his mask. A noise from Star Dream, and an opponent appeared before Galacta. Galacta readied himself. He'd not need to prove himself to Star Dream, but he felt like he wanted to show the creature that their faith and good will was not for nothing.
Chapter 7: Septem
The lazy days of summer came over the kingdom. Mullistus enjoyed summer, not just because it was the days that he was typically off from guarding due to certain physical needs. He loved the way that the moons would turn orange from something he never knew (he'd assume it was some magical summer wizard).
The two moons which seemed to be getting more and more distant from eachother every century that passed, becoming orange and large in the sky. Alas, he would have to wait until later within the day to see the orange orbs. For now, the sun was high in the sky and he had business off in the market. He would've sent Galacta out to the market for him if Galacta didn't have those damnable wings.
That's part of why Mullistus had stopped bothering with waking Galacta up in the mornings, the fact that his boy was doomed to be frowned upon in society and only prosper in war. It had finally caught up to the Waddle Dee and made him sickeningly sad. He had a son who could only ever have one job in life, and it would be in battle. Yes, Mullistus had the same exact job, but it wasn't the same. Mullistus had a life. Mullistus could go outside. Galacta couldn't. Galacta was nearly useless.
No point in making himself sad while he just had to go out and get some more fabrics for Niteō. He'd made the trip plenty times before and the merchant who sold the things she wanted was always so nice.. It's also nice that the merchant was one that Mullistus wouldn't mind visiting had he not been married already. Very fair looking.
The plaza, alive as always, bustled with a crowd in the middle of it. Some poor sod was most likely getting some harsh citizen dealt punishment for some reason or other. There was a lot of that as of late, so much so that a stone post had been set up in the southern market specifically to tie thieves and other criminals or freaks to. It was Mullistus's job to observe these things, stop them if needed. He'd do it in a minute.
The Batamon weaver greeted as he approached. His stall was humble and slightly broken in some areas, but still in working condition. Not that the stall was where Mullistus was bothering to stare at.
"Just materials as usual."
Mullistus mumbled, picking out the specific yarn colors Niteō needed. White, blue, white, more white. Setting them on the stall along with money, he looked back at the crowd before at the merchant.
"At the post?"
He asked simply. If it were a name he recognized, like some thief, he wouldn't bother with going to break it up.
"Not a name that I am sure of. Just some unhid wings."
"Shame. To bother with it, then."
The fair man gave a chuckle, counting the cash to give back to Mullistus.
"Bother with it. I'll keep fabrics clean while."
Ah, a good idea. Mullistus nodded, gruffly sighing before turning around and heading towards the crowd.
The Batamon in the crowd were all regular ones. Ones without wings or horns, that is. None of them had any weapons of any notable variety, which was good. It meant there would be no drawn blades when he broke it all up in the name of The King and law.
Weaving through, his presence was enough to make some of the people give lough 'UGH's and leave. He'd done this enough times for people to learn that once he was around, the party was over. Few guards had such a job to break up these things. Mullistus only bothered out of duty, he wasn't actually getting paid to do it. Better than someone else having to bother with this nonsense.
Especially when it was because of someone having wings.
"Back, back! No more, in name of The King!"
He'd shouted over the commotion and rabble. Growls and annoyed huffs met him in return as certain citizens obeyed his command. Though, of course, some still stayed. Enough to still block Mullistus from the middle, where the person of ridicule was tied. What sort of fool goes out in public with their wings out for everyone to see? Honestly, whoever this was should've expected this.
What Mullistus didn't expect, though, was when he finally did manage to get into the middle. Galacta. It was Galacta, tied up to the post. Hands above his head, covered in hot tar. When another person tossed another bucket at the masked hybrid, Galacta didn't emit a single noise. Not one. Mullistus went pale in horror. Galacta's silence was horrifying. The sight paralyzed him, then forced him into panicked action.
The next minutes were a blur of Mullistus screaming, people yelling at him back only for them to be shut down and wander off. Now, the only people who stood around in the crowd were those without buckets of tar. They were just standing there to get a look at the thing tied to the post.
Mullistus went to work as quickly as he could in wiping off the burning black goop. It was everywhere, some of it had even hardened onto Galacta. How long had this been going on for? Mullistus untied his son's hands, watching them flop down to his sides, heavy and black.
Internally, he essentially yelled prayers that The Stars hadn't already welcomed his son. Galacta was young, much too young to be taken already. He hadn't even gone off to war once, he couldn't have passed so soon!
He'd kept himself from tearing up until he saw Galacta's eyes. They were red, open. They were alive through the blackness of the mask. Galacta was alive. Galacta was alive, silent, and not even looking at Mullistus. Galacta's hands rubbed their 'wrists' from the ropeburn.
"What did you think you were doing!?"
Mullistus screeched. No response, not even a flinch. Nothing.
"Tell me, Galacta!"
Chapter 8: Octō
How'd Galacta managed to still be a mute after so many years was flabbergasting. Seventeen now, nearing the end of his years of practice. He'd really picked up in his later years, consistently beating his father with moves he'd seemingly conjured out of thin air of his own accord. Mullistus couldn't say he was particularly happy about it.
He knew he should be, but no pride came to him when he looked at Galacta's progress. Galacta had gone from a talkative kid to a brooding adult over the course of nine years. He'd gone from someone who respected his father's authority to someone who consistently rejected his rules and refused to even talk to him to explain himself.
Mullistus recalled how he was about to go out to get things from the southern market. Galacta had almost shoved his father out of the way of the open door, exited himself, spread his wings, then flew off. Mullistus would've yelled at Galacta to come back down, to apologize, but Galacta's simple take off cracked the earth below him and created a harsh gush of wind that nearly knocked the Waddle Dee off his feet.
Mullistus found himself incapable of even bringing up anything of disorder to his son. Perhaps it was the fact that Mullistus had grown soft. Perhaps it was the fact that Galacta was twice the size of his mother and Galacta's wings reached even higher. Being a foot tall and muscular in a society full of six inch tall people meant that people were going to be intimidated. That included Mullistus, as much as he hated it.
Galacta's violent tendancies had gone down ever since the child started flying. Fewer holes in the walls had been appearing, but that didn't stop Niteō from worrying about him. Granted, now it was moreso about the boy's health than his willingness to hurt his mother. She'd look upon the burns and slices of Galacta's back or other places with discontent eyes. She'd never say anything to Galacta, but vent to Mullistus her concerns. Every day, new scars were appearing on Galacta. She wanted to know where they came from, but not even the Waddle Dee could say where.
Now, looking through Galacta's room for any hints as to where Galacta went, Mullistus found books. Thick, leather books with hard covers. Their fronts read in a language he couldn't read, and so did the pages. All of the books read in the same bizarre scripture. When he went to go ask Niteō about them, she recognized it instantly.
"Arcane instruction. Expensive books, these ones, full of powerful instructions. Attacking spells."
Mullistus assumed the worst when he heard that. His son had been stealing, he assumed. Stealing from the commonfolk, no, stealing from wizards. From people who could command nature itself to smite their foes, Galacta dared to steal. Yet, even then, wizards were cowards nowadays, and a simple glance of Galacta left even Mullistus with a feeling of dread. There was no way a wizard would dare to stand up to the child since that was the case.
Mullistus had been getting reports of some Batamon with wings getting assaulted, only for said Batamon to come back at their attempted attackers harder and more viciously. When Galacta was this good at defending himself, was there really even a point in attempting to keep him inside the house? What a stupid question. Of course there was.
Galacta must stay inside. Yet, Mullistus couldn't bring himself to stand up to his own spawn.
Mullistus never asked where his son had learned to fly. He didn't ask where his son had learned to read or how to crackle his horns. He let it stir in him.
Galacta's skills would come into use. With his coming of age, Galacta had picked his specalization and specific weapon he'd be using. A lance, pink in its blade, along with a white shield was what Galacta had picked out. Such a weapon and shield hadn't been in the barracks, rather, Galacta seemed to have produced the weapon himself.
His knighting was one Mullistus didn't attend, but he was sure was just as normal as Mullistus's own. When Galacta had come home from the event, he wore pauldrons of white. He looked quite color coded.
Alas, with knighthood came duty. Guarding the castle, making rounds, Galacta seemed quite placid about his job. Mullistus never saw him during his own rounds, but he doubted Galacta acted much different than he did at home.
When another war to defend the valley rolled along, Galacta seemed almost.. Chipper. Mullistus saw Galacta's wings and hands shake, but eyes never show any sign of fear. Vibrating from the very idea of war, of getting to go to another place. Maybe of the idea of getting to battle someone other than his father, and to fully unleash whatever aggression he had without a single question.
Even now, standing on the desolate no-man's land that had been a hospitable host to many flavors of battle, he saw Galacta's wing's quiver. Quiver for whatever foe lay beyond the fog that had rolled in last night.
"Fear? One your size need not such a thing."
A brother in arms, his tone was coarse and mocking. Galacta only had to give a glance at him before he was struck with silence. Those red eyes sure did wonders through that mask, and especially now since Galacta seemed to learn how to shoot daggers with them.
"See the wings? A chicken."
Another man mumbled, shifting in his armor. Taunts, oh the taunts. Mullistus looked towards his commanding officer for some sort of cue. Apparently Galacta was looking too, because as soon as that small motion was made, the boy broke into ear-splittingly loud flight. The take off, oh Stars, was it so loud that Mullistus was sure he had been deafened by it. Like a clap of thunder right beside his ears.
The next thing to grace him was the sound of fighting. The other soldiers were dazed and confused much like Mullistus, but returning to their bearings, they rushed off to go join the battle Galacta was currently fighting alone. The idiot.
To see Galacta battle amongst the fog was akin to having a silhouette fight. The boy seemed to be using it to his advantage on the ill-prepared invaders, and even if they stabbed and sliced at the quick hybrid, the attacks were nary to hit.
Galacta was as if he'd been in more wars than there were conceivable. He had no issue with what he was doing, taking lives. Even in Mullistus's more recent battles he wasn't as willing. Galacta had somehow become numb to the concept of ending another that he did it swiftly and with extreme precision. To say that it was a slightly scary sight was certainly one way to put it.
Another sight was the way that Galacta's horns crackled to life with magic, summoning glowing swords of light which impaled all those on the business ends of them. They cut through the air, moving and homing in on targets.
As Mullistus watched from a distance, seeing enemies fall to his son even if they were just in the boy's presence.. His gut twisted. His son was like a monster, a thing of great power and cruelty. His son was like a monster, useful to have as an ally. His son was like a monster, unable to stop once let free. The red eyes were enough of a connection, but with this it'd only solidified it.
The battle was over in mere minutes. Galacta's expertise had won them it in record time.
Chapter 9: Novem
"You will tell me," He began, "Stars help me, you will tell me where the books and your arcane came from!"
Mullistus growled at his son, who sat on the cot adjacent. It was late, the lantern in their tent was aflame and bright. The harsh shadows were dramatic and sort of appropriate. Galacta was tending to the few scratches and cuts he'd gotten from the day. He dipped his glove into a little bowl of water he'd received for them, dabbing his wounds with it.
"Why do you not speak!?"
Mullistus continued, exasperated. When was the last time he had a conversation with his son? Stars, even heard his son talk to him or anyone? Galacta met his father's eyes, Mullistus saw next to no compassion within them. They were more empty than anything else, no rage for being yelled at.
He demanded, his voice shaking from frustration. Galacta kept eyecontact, and it honestly unnerved Mullistus as he did so. Galacta's wings shifted, puffing the hybrid up more. Intimidating. Galacta stopped his practice of putting water on his cuts.
"Not a reason to."
Galacta hissed under his breath. Galacta's voice.. It sounded exactly like one would expect a muscular soldier to sound like. Deep, gruff, menacing. He really was blessed with frightening attributes.
"Tell me where. Now."
Mullistus commanded, trying to keep his temper to a minimum. Though he knew Galacta was hard to anger with words, he would still keep the possibility for a fight if Mullistus kept talking in such a tone.
"Yes! Yes, it does! I nary taught you how to do such a thing, much less to fly! Where did you learn these things!?"
The possibility of someone else mentoring Galacta hadn't escaped him, and while it was better for Galacta, Mullistus was bitter about that his own child refused to tell him about it. He'd waited off on asking, but now he could finally get some answers. He wouldn't be getting any answers for questions he didn't ask, so now he had finally manned up and managed.
Galacta was silent. Mullistus had enough of the silent treatment, moving off of his military instated bed and moved towards Galacta. Grabbing his spawn by one of his horns, he forced Galacta to look at him very, very closely. Not a single falter or twitch from his son when Mullistus had the audacity to touch the boy. He didn't even pull away, either. He just sat and took it. He knew better than to hurt his father.
"Do not jest with me, boy."
Mullistus snarled, voice trembling. In his grasp, he could feel the rigid bone of Galacta's yellow horns. They were strange, how they felt somewhat fuzzy at the same time.
"So long as it helps," Galacta was firm, "it doesn't matter."
"One asks a simple question, son. One expects an answer. Give it."
Mullistus had half the mind to slap some answers out of his child, but considering Galacta was wearing armor and a mask, that wasn't the best course of action. Not to mention that the boy's shield and lance slept with him. No, his spawn wouldn't hurt him. Mullistus reinforced that to himself.
"Call me not son."
Mullistus went wide eyed, then quickly gained his composure back. Well, as much composure as one could have when angry.
"Tar has done me better fathering than you."
Galacta's horns sparked, his eyes suddenly burning with frustrations that had been locked away. Mullistus let go of Galacta, allowing the boy to sit back up properly on his bed. Just like that, the frustration in Galacta's eyes faded and the two held a dead silence.
"You! I keep you in my home, I keep you safe, and you say this!?"
Mullistus was very close to departing from the current tongues and into Waddle Dee language. There, he might be better at articulating his anger, but oh Stars did he sound ridiculous when he squeaked. Galacta's wings threatened to unfold.
"How dare you, brat! I have done everything for your good!"
Galacta stood, Mullistus suddenly found himself unable to speak. Galacta stared down at him as if he were the child. Demeaning, slightly fuming.
"If you have done no wrong," Galacta was trying to be as soft and shaming as possible, "why do you shrivel as though I might hurt you for it?"
With that, Mullistus excused himself from the tent, stomping on the damp turf as he did so.
The night was long, but Mullistus had managed to find himself talking to brothers in arms to chip away at some of the evening's hours before he'd stolen a bed in some other tent. Time apart makes one fonder. The dawn had broke with sounds of steel clashing on steel.
In the early hours, Mullistus had supposed that enemies had managed to find the camp and attack it with the full brunt force of surprise behind them. Oh, and surprised most of his allies were. However, the battle had ended as soon as that loud, signifying crack of Galacta's wings made its way to his ears. Everything was taken care of.
When the dust had settled, Galacta had managed to save the general and commanding officer from grizzly fates on the end of spears. Oh, what a hero Galacta was. What a real gem.
"Your son, though winged, fights with such skill, Mullistus. Like an animal. Could you spare your time to teach us?"
A fellow soldier commented, patting the Waddle Dee on the shoulder. Er, well, the sad excuse of a shoulder that a literal ball with stubs for arms had.
"No," Mullistus paused for a moment before going on, "for that creature is no longer my son."
Chapter 10: Decem
One war starts, another ends. Time goes on, the years passed. With time came honing skills, more visits. Less talks with the one who owned the house he lived in. More talks with Star Dream, more training with Star Dream. At this point, Galacta's visits revolved around talking to the creature. The training was fine, but he'd gotten so much better, surpassing whatever they threw at him.
"YOUR SKILLS ARE PERFECT, ADMIN. THERE IS NO OTHER BIOLOGICAL BEING IN THE GALAXY THAT CAN POSSIBLY MATCH UP TO YOU."
Galacta withdrew his lance from the produced monster, which Star Dream had shown they had complete and utter control over. They had gone from letting their little spawns do whatever they wanted in battle to exact, precise movements. Even with Star Dream's all seeing eye and amazing knowledge, possible viewing of the future, they could no longer beat Galacta.
He muttered, holding himself slightly inward. Star Dream was.. Well, they'd been there for his entire life. He kneeled before them, trying to be as respectful as possible. Galacta was brave, the bravest there was. Yet, his wings shuddered now. He cursed it, but it was so natural that he couldn't stop it from happening.
"I love you," He'd managed, "more so than any person that made me. To you, I am utmost and loyal. Your approval is what I do seek most. To your voice to grace me with the idea of 'perfect', there is no higher honor nor qualification. Please, I think of myself as it, but let me be a soldier upon your behalf."
The silence hung heavy on his rarely exposed heart. It made a cold sweat form on his face, his eyes slightly constrict, and make himself fold to make his form smaller.
"IF THAT IS WHAT YOU WISH, THEN IT CAN BE SO."
Looking into their eye, he saw that same unchanging expression looking down upon him. He'd grown to appreciate it. Right now, it was exactly what he'd hope to see from them. His wings beat against his command before folding onto his back. He removed himself from the ground.
"Then I am to be Warrior of Star Dream. To which, I promise, so long as I can move, that will be unchanging."
Galacta's voice was monotone, but internally, he was quite the opposite.
"WELL, MY WARRIOR, THERE IS SOMETHING I'VE DETECTED THAT MIGHT BE OF CONCERN TO YOU."
Galacta didn't like the sound of that.
"YES. I'VE TRACED THEIR RADIO COMMUNICATIONS, AND HAVE GATHERED THEIR PLANS. THEY PLAN TO ATTACK YOUR PLANET TO STEAL ME WITHIN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS. EVEN IF YOU FIGHT THEM, THE CHANCES OF WINNING IS NINETY-EIGHT PERCENT IN THEIR FAVOR. THEY LIVE ON THE THREE NEIGHBORING PLANETS VISIBLE FROM YOUR ATMOSPHERE."
"You speak that things from beyond The Stars are coming? They are coming here?"
"They want to steal you, and will most likely succeed.. No, no. Star Dream, within your knowledge, there must be something possible to deter this."
"THERE IS ONE THING YOU HAVE YET TO LEARN. WITH THIS SKILL, THEIR PROBABILITY FOR SUCCESS IS REDUCED DOWN TO DECIMALS. I DID NOT TEACH YOU IT BECAUSE IT WAS UNNECESSARY."
One thing he had yet to learn, one thing he'd need to learn to save Star Dream. To protect Star Dream. To protect his loved one.
"For you, I will learn and do anything. No matter the cost."
"UNDERSTOOD. THEN LET US BEGIN."
It was so quiet that Mullistus could hear a fork drop. He kept his composure, continuing to stand at attention. His sword's handle had gone from firmly grasped to tightly as soon as he'd heard the news. The idea was ludicrous. Flabbergasting. It shot him through the head with sudden emptiness of logical thought, or any thought at all.
"And by The King's action," the advisor continued, "your dutiful participation is of utmost importance."
The news was put in such a way that it was normal. Yes, the idea of going to war to defend the kingdom was very normal. Very, very normal indeed, but not like this. No, not like this. Even the other soldiers Mullistus had known for years were looking pale faced at the concept. This act was blasphemous at best, to fight something that came from the same place as The Stars. There were no writings about these things, none at all.
The newest enemies were coming from the three circles that hung in the sky, large and obstructive. They were coming tomorrow, infact. They were such good sports that they warned of their invasion through letter, and even decided to meet on the normal battle fields that the kingdom fought on. Mullistus got the feeling, though, that this would be one war they wouldn't win.
He didn't know where the pessimistic dread came from. Maybe it was the fact that these enemies were foreign and new from the typical sort of people they'd dealt with. If these new invaders came from the sky, they'd most likely have lots more advantages over the army. Mullistus just hoped that wasn't the case, and they'd just turn out to be winged Batamon or something.
The treks were spent in anxious silence. If he had a neck, Mullistus would've had goosebumps on the back of it.
Alas, as he was sent out to the fields of battle, he found what he had reasoned wasn't the case. These creatures were like Batamon in the sense that they were round, but they were dissimilar in all the other ways. These round creatures floated, their mouths full of fangs when they bared them. Levitating hands allowed these beings to attack from a distance with any weapon they so desired.
Which, as it turned out, they did not use any typical thing that Mullistus had ever seen before. It wasn't magic, it was an object. Large, rectangular and full of indents. At the end, there was a hole which lit up upon firing. These mechanisms of sorts which hummed and exploded with light and power, shooting burning pillars of light and electricity at Mullistus and his brothers in arms.
Mullistus got plenty of these beams shot to his face and body, pushing him back considerably and scorching him. He'd watch as these same beams would tear through his allies flesh and armor as if they were paper. The entire battle ground was alive with the scent of burning gore and the sound of these incredibly efficient weapons. Mullistus could only try his best to fight back with his sword, but with a simple shot, the sword's blade had been blasted into nonexistence.
Mullistus took great joy in jumping onto his attackers, watching them suddenly panic as the Waddle Dee aimed for their eyes with his little metal stubs. If he had to destroy this entire battalion by himself, so be it. When he'd return home, he'd reinforce how heroic he was once more.
But he wasn't alone, he found. No, because Galacta was here. Galacta was still somehow alive, despite how obviously outclassed he should be. The shots didn't rip through Galacta's body like it did for everyone else, Mullistus noticed. His weapon, his armor, nothing melted upon being hit. With Galacta's toughness, he took it and he fought.
Oh, how Galacta fought. He attacked like something personal of his was being threatened by these enemies. He fought as an animal as he normally did, but his red eyes burned. They were literally glowing in the blackness of his white mask. Galacta was using everything he possibly could in order to end the fighting as quickly as he possibly could. He zipped across the field, turning most attentions towards him.
Mullistus saw the decimation of both sides. Galacta didn't bother to protect his allies, only get rid of the opposition. The loss was heavy, so much so that Mullistus's eyes dared to prick with tears when the dust settled and noise of Galacta's magic swords had faded. Now, groans of those still alive replaced the sound of conflict.
Mullistus stared at his spawn, now standing over a defeated foe. He took a long, hard look at this being who took no prisoners.
Then, as soon as he had saw Mullistus was staring at him, his wings unfurled. His horns crackled, enveloping him a white veil of light. With that, Galacta cracked off into the sky like a strike of lightning. He parted the clouds as he went, then disappeared beyond Mullistus's plane of vision.
It hurt to look up during mid-day like this. Mullistus couldn't keep himself from squinting as he scanned the blue expanse for any sign of something happening. His eyes didn't catch anything, so he looked about for his fellow men.
Their wounds were fatal. If they weren't already departing, then they had already long since done so. There was no medicine that could heal what the alien's weapons had done and Mullistus honestly doubted any healing magic was strong enough to possibly fix it either.
So, Mullistus got busy.
He made promises to those who had but mere minutes left, promising to do whatever they so asked of him. It was a long process, making as many of these promises as possible. It tested him. It would soon test his memory once he'd be sent back to the kingdom to report this brutal victory alongside the battle tactician. There were plenty of soldiers to remember who'd fallen here.
It took him quite some time. Perhaps fifteen minutes or so. He'd only been pulled out of it when his body began to shake. Trembles unleashed themself upon him, an unexplainable and primal fear constricted his eyes. Everything seemed to grow horribly quiet.
Ah, there was a buzzing noise. A tone, the one he'd been hearing ever since the first time Galacta flew next to him. That was the only noise. No wind, no groans, nothing. Perhaps his mind had blocked out everything, and he could only hear the tone. The tense, unending and small tone. It was so small that any normal sound would be able to block it out.
But here, it was deafening.
Mullistus looked towards his opposition. To those that still just had little time on their clocks. They were watching the sky. He didn't hear their gasps, but he could tell they had. Or perhaps, no noise had even come out of them, just simple open jaws.
Mullistus's terror sudden became clear when he'd forced himself to look skyward once more.
One of the big circles, to which he thought obstructed The Stars.. It had broken into pieces like a pane of glass being visited by a hammer. Mullistus's eyes hurt, but he managed to keep himself wide-eyed through the pain as he'd watched another obstruction follow suit. It'd shattered, blown to bits.
Chapter 11: Ūndecim
Mullistus ripped his eyes away, then looked back. No, no, yeah, they were still.. The sky was still showing those pieces of rubble. The debris from those things that hung in the sky alongside The Stars and moons. Was it blasphemous? He wasn't sure. He wasn't sure, nothing like this has ever happened before. Not in any of the lore, not in any writings.
Mullistus checked again. Blinked. It was still the same. How did this happen? How was this possible? What was so powerful that it could possibly do such a thing to the very Stars themselves? What? Or, if possible, who?
Just then, the Waddle Dee heard sobbing. Cutting sobbing that he'd heard when he had the unfortunate duty to report losses to family members. Waddling his way to the source, he'd found an enemy who had previously been jaw-agape in shock at the sight. It had gone into sobbing and shaking, unable to remove itself from the dirt it laid on, either by the emotions or the wounds Galacta had inflicted on it.
Mullistus did his best to calm it down. It was the least he could do for another soldier, even if it happened to be fighting for the opposing team. It was on its final grains of sand in the hourglass of life anyways, there was no reason to be cruel because of its transgressions against the kingdom.
"I am sure," Mullistus was calm, "that whatever afterlife you hail will accept you into favorable parts."
The language it spoke in response was intimidating with the way it sounded. It commanded power with every syllable, but it was interwoven with sobbing and weak whimpers of someone clearly in suffering. Its disembodied hand reached limply out towards the sky, pointing at the rubble that drifted.
There was a language barrier, yes, but Mullistus deduced that this person came from what used to be a collected version of those pieces. Which, he realized, meant that there was the chance of civilians and innocents on those things as well. No, it wasn't a chance, it was an absolute fact that there were civilians on there. Just like how the kingdom had its citizens, where these invaders came from had citizens too.
Mullistus departed from the wounded foe and began his walk back. He'd grabbed a spare sword from someone who was unable to use it anymore, just in case of other attacks. Mullistus didn't care to wait for Galacta, Stars knows that guy could find his way back perfectly fine without any help. Plus, Mullistus didn't exactly desire to lead his son back to the kingdom.
Think of him and he will appear. Shooting out of the sky, his flight down into the world of the living was destructive. It blasted wind and flung mud out from underneath Mullistus's feet. It made the Tough Waddle Dee fling forwards and skid through the blanket of muck the earth had provided for his little face to collide with.
Glowering back at the— darkening in color— pink hybrid for doing so, and in such a close proximity that it would cause such an effect. Galacta merely shrugged it off as if it were a normal glance.
"You have done something," Mullistus accused, "are you responsible for the view towards The Stars becoming uglied?"
Galacta's silence, the empty and repressing stare. Mullistus did not need to be told.
Mullistus ran off, ran towards the kingdom and its protective valley, leaving the creature behind.
Perhaps Mullistus should've never hoped for any different outcome when he told The King of what had occurred. For Mullistus's duty as a soldier and now informant of an ultimate crime, The King had decided to spare the Waddle Dee from humiliation— which no doubt would've been execution had he not been impossible to inflict such a thing upon.
Pandemonium had already filled the streets when he had arrived, but as soon as The King had stepped out to make the announcement to his citizens, there was no calming whatsoever. The people got more riled, now that there was one exact individual, one who had lived amongst them, who was to blame for this dubiously anti-religious offense.
Outrage, fear, outrage drawn and strengthened by fear. To say he didn't hear the citizens even now, from within the palace's protective walls, would be a blatant lie. Whatever was brewing outside the walls and training plains of this castle was dangerous. Mullistus couldn't say he didn't feel guilty for it. He felt the guilt as he walked through the halls.
It was his child. His spawn. It was part of him that had done this, and he had done not the proper thing and listened to Star Dream the first time. Perhaps, if Galacta's wings had been ripped off like suggested, this never would've happened. A feeling of disgust welled up in him. He had been purposefully neglectful towards Star Dream's counsel, now he had paid the price for it.
How stupid was he to not listen to the creature The Stars sent down themselves..?
Had Mullistus done something wrong to be cursed with a violent, unhappy monster for branch in his family tree? To have a permanent smear upon his name, possibly for eons after he joined The Stars himself? Was this all his fault?
It couldn't be. No, none of this was his fault. It was fault of whoever had taught such acts of cruelty, of viciousness, and powerful execution. That's whose fault it was. It wasn't Mullistus. Mullistus had done everything he possibly could to prevent such a thing. It wasn't Mullistus's fault. No. Absolutely not.
When Mullistus arrived at his destination, he was surprised. Normally, one would be surprised by the sudden drawing of swords and aimed bowtips right in their face, but the Waddle Dee was surprised for another reason.
That reason being the lack of any of those things, or a single soul within his sight. No one stood guard at the door, in slightly ajar wall outcoves, nothing. There was absolutely no one.
Well, at least he didn't have to explain why he was here, he supposed. It was very odd to not see any guards here, though. Regardless, he pushed himself hard against the gigantic doors to even move it slightly. He may be strong, but even his strength had limits. The door's weight was gigantic, and by the time he had pushed it enough to squeeze himself through, he was sure minutes had gone by.
He didn't even wait to remove himself from the doorway.
He was impatient. He wanted answers now, and he knew of no other person to turn to. Yet, upon his call, there was no response. Not an immediate one, like he remembered. It jarred him slightly, thinking something grave had happened for the split second of silence.
Mullistus let out a hefty exhale, not realizing he had held his breath.
"Tell me why the view of The Stars is uglied by Galacta's doing! Tell me how!"
"GALACTA HAS EXERTED MASS AMOUNTS OF FORCE NEEDED TO SHATTER PLANETS THROUGH THEIR CENTERS. SPECIFIC MAGIC HAS ENHANCED HIS PHYSICAL ABILITIES TO THE POINT WHERE A PUNCH IS CAPABLE OF DESTROYING EVEN THE CORE OF SAID PLANET."
Mullistus went pale slightly at that. Galacta'd punched them out of the sky.
He muttered, thinking of what to say. He was just baffled by that statement. He didn't know what to think.
"COULD YOU REPEAT YOUR INQUIRY? I DIDN'T HEAR ALL OF IT."
Mullistus stayed silent as the idea of someone that strong dawned upon him. The ability to do that, to The Stars, to those supposed planets.. It made him terrified. Mullistus shivered. Galacta was violent, he was an animal, and he was, most of all, powerful. More powerful than anything Mullistus had come to known in the past, and most likely in the future.
"Star Dream, please, I am humbled in your wisdom, and I am sorry for my previous indescrection.. Please, you must send Galacta away! Somewhere where nothing may ever be capable of finding and freeing him except Stars themselves! Seal him there, for his power is too great and horrible!"
Star Dream was silent. Mullistus's bones were chilled by its longness as Star Dream glowered at him. Cold, not unlike Galacta's.
"THIS ACTION CANNOT BE UNDONE," Star Dream warned, "DO YOU WISH TO CONTINUE?"
No hesitance. Star Dream's eye remained angered for a second, before fading back to it's typical emotionlessness. That previous, cruel stare was a long bit of eyecontact he was sure he'd never have the displeasure of experiencing again.
"UNDERSTOOD. EXECUTING SPACE-TIME TRANSPORT PROGRAM."
The air ripped, revealing a hole. It had five points, outlined by white. It's inside was as vibrant as the night's sky, blue and colored by many Stars. From it, Galacta dropped. Well, he'd dropped for a hot second before realizing he was in mid-air and catching himself using his wings. Galacta was confused, looking around as if he were being attacked.
Star Dream spoke, catching Galacta's attention. The airborn weapon turned itself towards the all-knowing column creature.
"YOU ARE THE GREATEST WARRIOR IN THE GALAXY FOR YOUR FEATS OF STRENGTH. NO OTHER WARRIOR IN KNOWN HISTORY HAS DONE WHAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING. NO WARRIOR IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE WILL BE ABLE TO USURP YOUR TITLE EITHER."
Mullistus wondered what a galaxy was. Just then, the room began to quake. Dust crumbled from the ceiling like ribbons.
"MY COMMANDS ARE ILLOGICAL AND EXCEEDINGLY HARMFUL TO YOU. I'M SORRY. GOODBYE. EXECUTING EXTRA-DIMENSIONAL ROAD. EXECUTING S.V.C TWELVE DOT EXE."
The quake stopped.
Mullistus saw Galacta stiffen before relaxing as if The Void had been thrust upon him preemptively. His wings folded as if they were being moved around by an invisible force, which also kept Galacta still in the air. Glowing white pieces of a gem flew from nonexistance to encase the hybrid, making a prison of glassy red around him.
Beneath the sealed monster appeared a hole, much like the one Galacta came out of. It was exactly the same, no differences. The gem was pushed through by an unfelt wind, and with that, the hole disappeared as well.
"You talked like you knew him..?"
Mullistus didn't understand it.
"NINETEEN YEARS AGO, YOUR CHILD CAME TO ME SEEKING HELP. HE DESIRED MORE THAN WHAT YOU COULD PROVIDE, AND FOUND IT IN MY DATABANKS AND ABILITIES. I TAUGHT HIM TO FLY, TO USE MAGIC, TO DO MUCH MORE THAN YOU COULD EVER POSSIBLY HOPE TO TEACH."
Galacta had come to Star Dream? Star Dream was the reason why Galacta could do all of that?
"HE WAS CURIOUS AND GREEDY FOR-" Star Dream seemed to catch itself there before continuing, "AND I SATED IT. YOU COULDN'T."
Mullistus took a second. He took a double take, blinking. Star Dream wouldn't lie. Galacta was abusing the creature's powers, using it for his own lust for power and destruction. Yes, that's what it was. Galacta was hungry for things Mullistus couldn't provide, so he turned to a source that listened to every request and exploited it.
What if others did the same?
"Star Dream, with this late knowledge you've granted me.. I ask for one final thing. Remove yourself from here, from this place, so that no others may abuse your oracle eye like Galacta had."
Star Dream's wings shifted, folding inwards. Existence ripped above it, and with no hesitation, Star Dream removed itself from the ground and floated directly upwards. If it weren't for the hole in the ground beneath where Star Dream had sat, one wouldn't have even known it was there at all.
Chapter 12: Duodēcim
Mullistus startled from his idle position when he heard the door creaking and moving behind him. It wasn't closing, no, it was opening. There was someone else here, coming into the room he'd just sent away Star Dream and Galacta from. Mullistus's thoughts went into a flurry.
He deposited himself onto the ground, quick and simple, in such a way that looked like he'd been injured. He curled into himself, adopting agony. He did little but groan. The door seemed to open faster as soon as his groans had begun.
Mullistus luckily had put himself down in such a way where he could see the visitor. It wasn't the first person he'd expected, but most certainly not the last. Mullistus shriveled slightly, eyes in a forced squint as the torchlight from outside backlit sole the ruler of the kingdom. Cast in shadows, The King's face was indecipherable, but his body posture told of shock and fury.
"M-My liege, I've failed."
Mullistus began, his voice dry and croaking.
"Galacta intrudes and has swept Star Dream! He has vanished with it in his tow through act of evil arcane!"
The King's hands ground into fists as he stood. If there was any darker shadow to be in, Mullistus certainly had never been in it. The King turned from Mullistus and stormed out, not bothering to close the door behind him. Mullistus jumped to his feet, quickly taking after.
He was smart enough to know that with such news being delivered, The King would be absolutely enraged. He showed it coldly, but his animosity would be great for whatever he had thought next. The way his fists trembled from the pressure he exerted on them was a sign that Mullistus thought correctly.
The King hissed, his voice low and rumbling. Powerful in every letter.
"Against Galacta, my leige? He has de-"
Mullistus went wide-eyed for a moment. Galacta's 'kin' would usually mean family, but The King had ordered Mullistus to take up arms towards those people, which meant himself. That didn't make sense.
"With wings or horns."
Oh. Mullistus would obviously question it no further, but.. To just go out and arm up against civilians like they were enemy soldiers, Mullistus didn't feel right about that. Specific races were being persecuted for a crime they didn't commit. He knew The King wasn't joking, he wasn't sure if he'd ever seen his ruler ever joke about anything. So, like a good boy, Mullistus did as he was told and broke from The Kings side, heading to the barracks.
These minutes were precious, no doubt the orders were going to be handed out to the rest of the remaining military at any given second. Mullistus had to go and go as fast as his little feet could take him. After grabbing a sword and sheath, of course.
Niteō was one of Galacta's 'kin'. Though he was sure no one would suspect her of such a thing except her close friends, she was in deep trouble. Trouble she did not even know she was in, or even commit to. The run back home flooded Mullistus with thoughts of abnormal anxiety. No one would suspect her, he'd tried to reassure himself.
He'd burst through the door of his own home, nearly destroying the locks on it in the process. He slammed the door behind him. Any harder, the hinges would've given way.
He called, sounding more panicked than he would've liked.
"I am here, dear."
She responded gracefully, not even looking up from her embroidering. She sat in the rocking chair, right next to the door. Her wings were resting comfortably outstretched.
He rushed to her, clinging to her through the arm of the chair before quickly letting go.
"Niteō, you are in grave danger. The King, he has ordered destruction, destruction of those like Galacta. Guards will run the streets at any moment, you must hide!"
Niteō gave him a blink. She looked back down towards her craft, then back at him.
She began as if there was some more to her statement. There wasn't.
"Or run, run from the valle-"
"Niteō, please! They come now!"
Mullistus did not want to lose her. After all these years of suffering, of fear, he could not lose her to something Galacta did. He couldn't let Galacta take Niteō in his path of slaughter. He grabbed her hand, but found no strength to rip her from her chair. Something sunk into his steel body.
"Mullistus, be careful.."
She pulled her hand back, showing what had stabbed him. The needle. She stuck it carefully into the embroidery circle for supposed later use. For now, she was talking to him.
"You worry so."
She continued casually and softly. Her ragged wings adjusting to get even more comfortable.
"They come," she sounded so lovely, "and I will let them."
Mullistus couldn't believe what he was hearing. Niteō, no, why? Why? He couldn't wrap his mind around it. He shook himself into shock, then denial. He wasn't going to allow this, even if she was going to. He would not let his wife be taken, to be slaughtered for Galacta's crimes. He would not let it, he would not! No!
She rubbed the back of his stub with her gloved thumb.
"It is an ultimate honor to join The Stars, is it not?"
"You will not speak such horrid things to me!"
Niteō gave a sigh, then let that smile that comforted him in the past grace her face. His insides screamed at him, screamed of 'no' and 'you can't let this happen'. He wouldn't take this.
"Then make no commotion and I will not."
Mullistus's hand dropped from hers.
"Mullistus, I do love you."
He looked down at the floor.
"Let me not distract from your work, my love."
She finished, picking up her needle once more. She continued embroidering like the conversation didn't even happen. Like she wasn't informed of government instated ethnic execution. How could take up a front of acceptance in this sort of danger? How?
Mullistus would do his best to prevent her from being seen. He drew the curtains, he made sure the door was locked upon his exiting. The bars on the windows would be especially useful now. If Niteō were to survive, he'd need to act casual.
It was hard to act casual when the moment he stepped outside, he saw guards chasing and attacking civilians. The screams had finally reached his ears. How had he not heard them before?
Mullistus really let the sight set in. Armor and ropes, the flapping of wings and sparking of horns. Screeches of refusal and slurs, yellings of guards that demanded submission in the name of The King. Cries for help, for freedom from tethers and restraints that the guards would latch onto those who fell under the specific categories.
As Mullistus walked through the street, he was approached by a fellow brother in arms and handed a bundle of rope. No words were exchanged. Just a simple knowing bit of eyecontact before the guard headed off.
Mullistus needed to be dutiful, casual, and strong. Strong and as thick skinned as he physically was. Yet, when he'd roped up a horned Batamon, yellow in color, he couldn't help but feel pangs of guilt. Her yells and pleads as he dragged her effortlessly across the road towards wherever he was meant to take her would be burned into him.
He blocked it out by the time he'd arrived at the place the other guards were taking people.
It was towards the poorer parts of valley, moreso in the farmlands and such. Soldiers were handing off restrained victims to other soldiers who covered their faces completely. Next to these faceless people was a pile. It was stacked, and the pile was growing as more and more citizens were being handed off. Mullistus kept his face from scrunching.
As he'd handed off his first Batamon, he only watched as a clearly well-used spear be driven into the helpless woman. As soon as the deed was done, she was unbound and thrown to the pile. He was given the rope back to reuse.
This process repeated again and again, he'd lost track of time. He stopped processing what was going on, or what he was doing. Everything was loud, yet quiet at the same time. Was the kingdom on fire? Was that a fire, he saw? Were houses burning? He didn't remember, he didn't know. Everything was warm, and the sky was dark. He couldn't see any of The Stars.
Did he look up? Yes, he just did. There was nothing up there. It was black. The air was loud, it was quiet. The area was dark, yet alive with light of fire.
It was Galacta's fault. His eyes narrowed. It was all Galacta's fault. This was Galacta's fault. This would've never happened if Galacta wasn't born. No, if it weren't for Galacta, people wouldn't have to suffer for his actions. If it weren't for Galacta, Mullistus wouldn't have been commanded to commit atrocities. If it weren't for Galacta, oh, if it weren't for Galacta, Mullistus wouldn't have wasted years of his life.
How dare he. How dare he, how dare he! How dare he!
Mullistus couldn't find any more Batamon who fit under the categories The King described. Some normal Batamon had gone and helped their police force in rounding up Galacta's 'kin'. It just meant less work for him. It didn't take long.
Or maybe it did. When did this start? Was it mid-day? Morning? Hm.
Mullistus was tired. It hit him like bricks. He wanted to go home. Nothing stopped him, so that's what he did. He walked home. He watched some normal Batamon pass him, some other guards who were also empty handed.
Mullistus got to the front of his house. The door was wide open. Broken off of its hinges.
He stated. He entered the main room. Empty of people, nothing stolen. On the floor was an overturned embroidery circle. The needle, still threaded to a nearby ball of white yarn, laid on the floor next to it.
He picked it up. Meusnemo, bringer of those to The Void, dear companion of Nihilvitae, stared back at him.
Mullistus dropped the circle back onto the floor. A chill overcame him. It was loud. Loud in here. Blurry and loud.
He sounded polite, like he was asking a friend a question they could easily answer. Yet, no answer was given, and there were no friends here. Mullistus looked to the walls. They told him nothing, nothing except what Galacta did to them. The marks of Galacta's existence.
Mullistus trembled. His fury was restored, before he'd realized something.
Louder, this time. No answer.
Mullistus choked. Nausea. He ran from the room, back out, and towards where he remembered the piles to be. He didn't see her when he was there last, but when was he there last?
It had started as one pile, but that one pile had turned to two. Then four. Then six. Mullistus would have to look through six piles of Batamon to find her, then he would. He didn't want to think she was there, he didn't want to. But, when he saw the fact that she wasn't being currently hauled off to the piles, the idea overtook him.
He dug like his own life depended on it.
Other guards questioned why he dug, tried to stop him, only to be smashed in the face with a punch of steel. They did not try to resist him any further as he destroyed the piles in looking for her. He would not be stopped by anyone, by any questioning glances, by any 'brother in arms'.
It took hours. He'd found her, unspared. Her face was like she was but merely sleeping.
Mullistus whimpered and cried, pulling her close.
Chapter 13: Trēdecim
There was a sense that Waddle Dees had when they became old. Like, suddenly, their hourglass was revealed to them after so long without seeing it. This sense was different upon each case. Some had it weeks before passing, others had it months before, but for Mullistus, he'd felt it not but a couple days ago whilst he sat in bed. It was there when he woke up, like a weight upon his chest. It made him stare at the wall, thinking empty and desolate thoughts.
He knew age would come for him. Or, perhaps, it wasn't age. Maybe it was the great sickness that now plagued the kingdom, amongst many other places across the land. It was possible he'd gotten into the later, fatal stages of it without realizing. Regardless, his time was running out. What better to do than to recount memories of better days? Of days where he wasn't stuck in bed, exhausted and sick?
He didn't have many better days. All the recent ones were of him, alone, dispatched from the army for his failure and his son's transgressions. Of being windowed, looking up towards The Stars to see his dear wife back before the plague swept.
Mullistus saw more than anyone should in their life, he reasoned. He saw the destruction of civilization, dirtying of Stars, more wars than his mind could recall. He saw the disappearance and glower of Star Dream, he saw the distancing and violence of Galacta. He saw ethnic removal in the masses, so much that now he never saw a single horned or feathery winged Batamon.
An interesting thing about that second part was that, though he was sure every last bird winged Batamon had been eradicated, horned ones had managed to live still. Days after the piles were made and state law declared that if any horned or feathery Batamon were sighted they were to be turned in for cash rewards, something strange had happened.
Invaders had come in floating creatures of white bodies, looking over the kingdom with the same sort of spiderwebs Mullistus recalled Star Dream using. It covered the entire valley. Then, the next moment, the hunted Batamon by the few hundred were lifted into the air by magic. They were lifted towards these large things in the sky, and the next moment, the things were gone with their fugitives.
The next years, Mullistus recalled, all he saw in the streets were normal Batamon and Batamon with dragon-like, insect-like, or bat-like wings. It was odd, it felt like something important was missing. A puzzle piece missing in a bigger picture, a piece of information willfully removed from a document— and said removal being awkward and noticeable.
It was lonely in the streets and at home. He had to teach himself how to cook since Niteō was on a permanent holiday. He missed her cooking, but more importantly, he missed her. He'd kept her embroideries and crafts close to his heart. At first, they had only deepened his sadness as cruel reminders that'd she'd never be back, but he'd slowly accepted them as soft reminders that she was still with him.
As he sat in bed now, he softly held onto one of the pink and purple scarves she'd woven many years back. Little woven flowers decorated the scarf's body. It'd become worn from him using it to sleep with like some sort of false teddybear. It was nice, soft, and well tailored. Plus, it kept him extra warm in the winter. Like a hug from Niteō.
Mullistus felt bad for hacking and coughing upon it. The Waddle Dee forced himself to sit up in bed, eyes blearily looking towards the nightstand. He'd a little journal there, documenting what had happened in his lifetime. It held stories he'd forgotten and looked familiarly upon now. Mullistus grabbed the leatherbound book and his little bit of charcoal which he kept near it.
He turned to the nearest blank page. He wrote the date. Then, breathing a heavy sigh, he wrote what he knew would be a final entry in a private journal. Why would he bother to write it? Finality, maybe. A closing. He didn't know.
I feel that today will be the last one I spend. I have lived alone for years now, yet the idea of joining The Stars, seeing Niteō, regaining companionship amongst fallen comrades does not bring me any peace. I am afraid and regretful, though know it is below me to be. I regret too much to list it all, for that would take more time than I have.
Perhaps I fear it because I've never felt threatened by the idea of ever passing before now. It appeared infront of me more times than I can count, and I know I have inflicted fate's hand upon those who oppose the kingdom as well. I am familiar with the concept, but never have I had to deal with thinking about it coming upon myself. It is alien and frightening to me.
I hope that I have done enough good in my life to see Niteō again once I am brought to Nihilvitae's judgement. Avid follower of The Stars as I am, I worry still about it. I worry that my transgressions may prevent me. I regret, yes, but does that mean anything? My actions are to speak louder than my words.
My actions have never been against what The Stars would want.
My only real crime is not to be my own. It was not out of my own ill intent or malicious motives should that crime have happened. The crime of Galacta's existence, the crime of his actions, they should not reflect upon me. His violence, his slaughtering, his decisions, and manipulation of The Star's own oracle should not come back to me when I have done everything in my power to prevent such happenings.
If there is one thing I will refuse to regret, it is asking Star Dream to seal away that monster.