Chapter 1: Betrothed
The White Lady, before her title, knew nothing of her Wyrm, or nothing of her future goals in life. She once was stationary, growing in her own grove and freely unfurling her branches and roots, flowers springing up consistently, bearing fruit for the simple bugs that worshiped her and her fellow plant-like companions. All was well, populations rose and exploded under her, and she had a number of children she birthed and raised that flourished like a fresh garden, all varying in appearance, personality and sire.
It was no secret that she had a plethora of mates in her time, it was no problem to any, and she willingly gave them the children they craved but otherwise would not have, whether due to infertility, discomfort in their own pregnancy or the circumstance of them unable to produce together with their own mates. The Lady had much to give and she provided plenty for all who came forward. Her branches grew and shrank with her number of children alive, flowers blossoming to represent their existing lineage and gardens cast from her roots that marked their resting places.
She recently noted that nearly an entire branch fell dead, their bright yellow-orange blossoms falling shortly before the branch itself collapsed from decay in a most painful manner. Who would seek to wipe out the whole of a species like that? She could hardly recall what species they were, only the warmth of the god that asked for her assistance in their creation. Many gods came to her for such help, to build their following and nests. Quietly, the flowers were planted among other fallen family lines, brightening her garden somewhat.
The day the Wyrm came to her, she had to untangle her massive roots from the ceiling of her grove, leaning all the way forward to the ground as she took in his quiet brilliance. She thought she may go blind from the light he cast. He was silent for some time, before speaking an old language she didn’t quite understand anymore, only a few phrases sticking to her thoughts as his tone made her leaves crinkle just faintly.
She reached out to him quietly, her leaves cupping his perfect, smooth cheeks. Her voice reached out to him calmly. “Do you have need of me, pale thing?” His shell quaked in her hold, soft like a freshly molted grub as he reached his hands up to her branches. He was cold like the winters she slept through, though his light was like the rare rays of sunlight she witnessed and reached for subconsciously.
Finally, his mumblings rose, speaking her common language, albeit broken and unsure. “I need… assistance…” He couldn’t say what he meant, she knew. Her tongue was a strange one, heavily dependant on smell and the linking of minds. He smelled of lacking, pristine and clean. He was of Wyrm, having foresight to a degree, but lacked the abilities of a Root to see into one’s thoughts. She hummed softly, causing another rattle to course through him. He was far too delicate for a journey from the surface, what brought him here?
“Lost…” He murmured through his trembling. He lost his way… How unfortunate. The Root wrapped branches around him, setting him in her lap. “Pale one, I’d be happy to allow you time here in my garden, but do tread lightly. Many of my fallen slumber here.” He gave a tilt of his head as he processed the information he gathered, deconstructing and reconstructing the words as he well as he could. She could sense the puzzlement in every inch of his shell, and simply wound her branches around him, offering one of her many fruits to him to soothe his tangled thoughts. He was slow to accept it, and even slower at eating it, but all good things must be waited for.
He didn’t speak any more that day. In fact, he had fallen asleep in her lap shortly after eating the fruit. It made her smile, and she formed a small bed in her roots for him. The Root watched the Wyrm curl into a ball, much like a grub would. She came to the quiet conclusion that he had recently shed his old form, and so he was essentially a child in a cradle. At least, he would be until his new shell hardened, and then he would be capable of many things. Of fighting for territory, though it was likely he already did so. She was aware of how many of the surrounding lands were already claimed by other gods, and it was likely the cause of him shedding his form.
The Lord of Deepnest, a small fellow, claimed land to the far west, while to the east was the Hive and its queens. Above her garden was her Radiance, and nearby was the Root’s own sister, Unn, deep in her acidic waters. Below her was… She searched her memories for a moment. Something was down there, she remembered the feeling of it as it brushed by her roots. It was wet and watery, like the lake, but also cold, like a sickness. She decided to leave the thought alone, noticing her expressive blossoms turning black at the memory.
She closed her eyes to rest on her own, awaiting the Wyrm to rouse from his short slumber. She opened her eyes to feel the small thing climbing her with partial assistance from delicate wings. He let out a small squeaking noise when she gently wrapped a branch around him and held him carefully close. Her leaves shook with a small laugh at the startled sound he made, as though he forgot she could move and see. He quieted down easily though, soothed by her flowery scents and the soft bark she handled him with. She couldn’t blame him for his curiosity, contemplating letting him explore her further. Soon, however, he managed to break the silence she had already grown accustomed to around him.
“Return with me… Please…”
She gave him a quizzical look, her roots receding a bit from their well-dug tunnels. “I’m afraid I don’t understand, pale one…” He was hard to read, though he was clearly desperate for something. His form crumbled a bit like a dying, delicate rose, and she realized he was upset by her answer. She cupped his cheeks lightly, carefully bring his gaze back up to hers. “Do not sulk, merely explain.”
He took his time. She recognized this now, he was translating what he wanted to say, despite the difficulty in translating to her dialect of Floria. Finally, he spoke. “Come home with me… Be mine…” She blinked slowly, her turn to think. Was this his feeble attempt at courtship? Possibly, with how upset he was at her inability to understand. She gave a soft hum of thought, feeling him shudder. He was desperate for companionship it seemed. She knew as well as anyone that she would never reject another’s need. Perhaps that’s what he had been told and desperately sought out. Perhaps he wasn’t lost in the traditional sense but in the primal sense of needing someone. She knew that feeling well enough. Whenever she made a new attachment, mated and nurtured young, she felt a tug to be with them constantly. But each time she denied the feeling. She had to let her children spread, as was part of nature. To hoard them would be cruel. She looked down at the glowing frame of the Wyrm she had coddled for merely a day. Then she gave her quiet response.
“Of course, pale one…”
Chapter 2: Infatuated
The days passed swiftly from there. She gained a quick understanding of her new mate in the time leading up to traditional ceremonies that bound them as eternal mates. He was gifted the title of Pale King, and she dubbed his White Lady. Common bugs would gaze upon the united higher beings as greater than gods of old. The White Lady made consistent returns to her old garden, as the bugs and plant folk that had once lived there dispersed with the coming of the territory being claimed by her mate, guarded by his guards in an effort to protect his Lady.
She missed the Mosskin and her cherished sister who, after discovering the fate of other higher beings and godly creatures that met with the Pale King, went into hiding in her lake, leaving her followers to beg for her return and mourn their own gardens and pathways. It upset her greatly, but soon she came to accept that her king didn’t do such out of malice, rather he did it out of fear and anxiety. He was quite small at this point, smaller than even Deepnest’s mortal Lord, who was small against his mate the Beast.
The Lady pitied her mate. At times she wondered if she accepted his request of companionship out of pity as well, as him taking advantage of his fragile and small state to gain her heart’s adoration. Their love wasn’t empty she would remind herself. She doted upon by her husband, who tried to accommodate for her as best he could manage, going as far as learning her common tongue to ease their conversations, though they both found they had to learn the speech of common bugs to further themselves as a monarchy and put their people more at ease.
Despite their devout love for each other, they agreed to keep each other open to their hearts. At first, it was her husband trying to accommodate for her instinctive need to breed and assist dying lineages, but soon he found himself seeing his romantic interests drifting to other bugs and gods. So they promised to each other, to keep themselves updated on who they fell for, and when they were no longer together as time eventually passed.
The Lady had to admit that she fell for her personal guard Dryya easily. Despite her ferocity, she had the tendency to soften around her queen. Her figure and elegance were also alluring to the Root, and she would only ever admit that with a fresh bloom of pink and red blossoms and a green blush on her features, which was much unlike her when talking about her many mates. She would also admit she fell for the women in her life much easier than men, though her husband was a grand exception, and he would later admit that he also felt romantically for men more often than not, though the majority of his affections were saved for her, and she was a touch thankful for it.
The Root introduced her knight mere days after becoming infatuated with her, and after much hushed talking and embarrassed tones, they became official in their eyes. Dryya must have informed the other knights of her title, for later on in the following days, the White Lady had spotted the others giggling among themselves and her knight frequently red in the face, hissing at her comrades to hush as she tried to keep her rigid and serious frame. In their private moments, they complimented each other frequently and gave each other attention when the King permitted them privacy, which in later days became frequent as his infatuation with their hired artist Lurien grew.
Shortly after her and Dryya’s relationship began, however, they quietly broke it off. Both of them came to recognize the unprofessionalism and common distractions they provided each other, and though they were no longer in love, they still shared their private moments together as Queen and guard to soothe each other and provide comfort when needed. Romantically, they were no more, but platonically they were close, and Dryya would take that part of their relationship seriously still.
It was a time before the White Lady found another that made her bloom pink, but she found the feeling in a wondrous teacher. Monomon was an odd woman, both in species and in mind. She was the creator of a few species and tutored many students who later became helpful tutors around the kingdom and came under the palace’s own service in the form of her most brilliant pupil Quirrel, who was helpful in teaching the Gendered Child and their future Heir. This is, in fact, how they met; when Monomon came to deliver her student and pass the reigns of teaching to him.
Monomon was simply brilliant. She was intelligent and strange and all too good for the White Lady’s poor heart. She confined in Dryya about her desires to join with Monomon’s heart and to pick apart her emotions much like she did all her past and present mates. Dryya, on a whim, informed her that perhaps she should visit the teacher. The thought stuck with the White Lady for days until she finally informed her husband she would be doing just that, under the guise of bringing the children with her to investigate the canyon. Dryya, of course, accompanied her as she went to see just how infatuated she was with the teacher.
It turns out she was madly intrigued, and after she had spilled her provided tea on her wraps did it eventually slip, and Monomon had to excuse herself for fear of a wave of strange emotions consuming her. The Lady felt bad for causing such a scene and feared she may have ruined a grand relationship. That was until she felt a slim tentacle wrap around one her branches she utilized as hands, and they gave each other a gentle squeeze and shared a smile. The Root’s branches remained purely pink for the whole day and the following four, right up until Monomon once again visited with Quirrel. Once again, the White Lady found herself deep in another relationship.
And she found plenty more, becoming infatuated with even Herrah, the Beast of Deepnest, and the now lone queen of the Hive, Vespa. Of course, that all, sadly, had to come to an end when she discovered the Old Light had returned, and her husband’s plans became known publically to her. The infection, she sometimes wished, should have claimed her, as she fully believed it would hurt less to embrace Her than to toil with her breaking heart.