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Webtale

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Once upon a time, two creatures ruled over Earth: humans and monsters.

One day, war broke out between the two creatures. After a long battle, the humans were victorious. They sealed the monsters underground with a magic spell.

Many years later. . .

Mt. Webbot towers proud over a human village. Legends say those who climb the mountain will never return. 

Why the human climbed it, only time will tell.

She was so young, after all.

Was it fate? Mayhaps. She resembled the angel from above spoken of in the Deltarune Prophecy. Much like the angel she had a rosy complexion, bright eyes, an open heart, and pale hair like spider's silk.

We can never know for sure...

 

Hm... How peculiar. That hallway with the grey door... Was that always there?

The land is full of mystery, but it's not quite for me. I'm but a simple river person, singing simple songs. Tra la la...

 

Hannah opened her eyes. She was staring up from the bottom of a hole, light flooding down onto her. She stayed still, laying on her back. She followed the trail up the forbidden mountain and fell down. Remembering that, more details came back to her.

The air was so heavy there. It was early morning and the breeze was cool on the way, but at the summit is turned freezing. She went up there with a sense of adventure and curiosity. She planned to just turn back but... She heard a faint voice coming from the pit before her, calling for help. So, she climbed down carefully, not realizing that she wouldn't be able to make it to the bottom safely. She didn't dare look down, after all. That was why her foot got caught on a vine, and she fell down.

She sat up. Lex didn't know where she was. She had to make it back home. She stood up, and looked down at herself. She didn't feel much pain at all, only some soreness in her back. She was standing in a bed of flowers. And her favorite kind of flower, too: red spider lillies. She had  found a book about them at the library a week or so ago.  She was rather surprised by the legends of death and melancholy surrounding them, but strangely enough it didn't scare her like she expected.  She wondered how they were growing so well underground. But what was stranger to her was the fact that there were specs of dust scattered on some of them. She had never seen a dusty flower before.

She picked a lily, snapping its stem in two. She put the flower in the small backpack she had brought for the hike up the mountain, and turned to face the wall she planned to climb up to reach the surface.

That plan wouldn't work. The wall was too steep and tall. Hannah frowned, and looked back at the flowers.  Then, she noticed the stone path leading to a gateway of sorts. She carefully stepped out of the flowerbed, not wanting to smother anything under her feet, and went through the gateway. It was an old structure, made of pale purple stone. There was a symbol on it that Hannah didn't recognize. It was a circle, with four jagged lines to the left and right of it. Below it was three triangles. Two symmetrical ones pointed down, and one underneath them pointed up. She didn't have much time to ponder it before she saw the lone red spider lily in front of her.

She approached it, planning to just step over it, but it looked up at her with a smile. It had a rather simple, sort of cartoonish-looking face. It's mouth was just a simple curved line  across two of its petals, and its eyes were just as simple: lines on petals. Hannah tilted her head, amazed and confused. Then it spoke.

"Heya darling!"

She took a step back, startled. There wasn't any immediate threat, but her soul jumped out of her body anyways. It glowed a bright, brilliant red color. Other than its color being rare, it was of course like any other small, heart-shaped human soul. When it sensed danger, it would appear to protect its human. Those with strong enough souls could even gain magic-like abilities from its protection, like shields made of light, the ability to float, or even the ability to shoot small lasers from ones fingertips.

Hannah's soul brought her up into the air. She dangled a few feet away from the ground, flailing a bit. She knew that she couldn't fall, logically, and that she had control over where she went from there, but she wasn't used to the feeling of flying at all. She had only just started to learn about her soul at school. 

The flower went on, unfazed. "You must be new to the Underground, huh kid?"

"Yes." Hannah answered simply.

"Oh wow, that must be scary. If only you had someone to guide you..."

"I'll find someone."

"No need, silly! I'll teach you a thing or two right now. But first, why don't I introduce myself? I'm Lilla! Lilla the Lily. In this world, I'm your best friend."

"... Okay. How?"

"I'm just the best companion you could ask for down here. Now, let's start somewhere simple... Do you know what LOVE is?"

"Yes. It's like... A family feeling. I love my sister."

"It's a little different down here. Here, LOVE is simply shared through little, white..."

Five tiny little white ovals appeared around Lilla, floating in front of Hannah.

"... Friendliness pellets!" Lilla exclaimed.

"Wow!"

"Now, go on, move around, get as many as you can, kid!"

The pellets came Hannah's way, and she welcomed them. When she grabbed onto one, something was clearly wrong, though. She didn't feel love. Instead, she felt pain. She looked back at Lilla, hoping it was some sort of mistake. But the flower's simple smile was replaced with a grin so huge it seemed to make the rest of Lilla grow.

"... Why?" Hannah asked her. The pellets stuck to her hands, leaving a burning pain there. What was the point in that pain?

"To teach you everything you need to know..." Lilla answered. More white pellets appeared, surrounding Hannah. "In this world, it's kill or be killed."

As they started to close in on her, Lilla let out a loud, shrill cackle. She sounded like a witch. Hannah looked for a gap she could escape through, but found none. She could only wait for more pain. 

But it didn't come.

If anything, her pains had been soothed. Lilla stared, dumbfounded. Hannah just stared back until she heard a new voice.

"Leave them alone! Do you have anything better to do?"

Lilla ducked and tucked herself into the ground. Hannah was gently brought down from the air, and her soul retreated back to its home. Its gentle and familiar warmth filled her chest. She looked down at her feet, tapping them gently. Then, she brought her gaze back to what was in front of her.

They looked just like the monsters from storybooks. They were tall, and covered in white fur. Two small horns sat on top of their head. They had floppy ears, like a rabbit's, that hung above their shoulders. Their hands were large, and they had small claws. One thing that made them look a bit different from the pictures of monsters Hannah had seen, was that the fur on the back of their head was quite long and messy. Some of it was a brilliant golden color, mixed in with the snowy white fur. They wore a long dress. It was a pale, light blue color, with navy blue sleeves. In the center of the dress, there was a sort of sheild shape the same color as the sleeves. In the middle of the shape, Hannah saw that unfamiliar symbol again. 

The monster looked down at her with a gentle smile. "That flower really must be miserable, huh? I can't imagine what brings people to bully children like that..."

Hannah returned the monster's smile, finding comfort in it. It looked like the smile a mother would give, though she could only guess that. Her mother never bothered. 

"Hello, child. I am Ms. Holloway, guardian of the ruins. I'm not here to hurt you, don't worry. Are you alright? Are you hungry? Lost?"

"Hungry. And lost." She answered.

"I see. Then I'll guide you through the ruins, alright? My house is a bit of a long ways from here, but I'm sure we'll make it there just fine."

Hannah nodded.

"Okay. Let's get going. If you want, you can hold my hand." Ms. Holloway offered.

She accepted that offer. Her hand was warm and soft. She led Hannah into a room.

The walls were a stunning, bright purple. They seemed to be made of some kind of brick. Red leaves were sprinkled all over the ground. They crinkled and crunched under Hannah's feet. She loved that sound. Ms. Holloway led her up the staircase before them, and into the next room.

It was a small room, with a path of lavender stone leading right to the door, but the door was blocked off. 

"Oh... It looks like they've reactivated the puzzles. Hold on, I'll do this one for you." Ms. Holloway said.

She let go of Hannah and went off to the side of the path, where six large buttons were on the wall, arranged in columns of two. She pressed the left and right columns, and flicked the switch next to  the set of buttons. Just like that, the door opened

"The ruins are full of puzzles like that. There are these little hints on the signs, but they're a bit cryptic.  Maybe sometime you could try to solve them the proper way, if you like that sort of thing?"

"I like puzzles." Hannah told her as she held onto her hand again.

"That's good. Puzzles keep your mind strong and entertained. I think I have a few books of riddles at home..."

A silence lingered as Hannah was led into the next room. She felt that heavy feeling from the mountain again for just a moment.

"Ah! This is one of my favorite rooms here. And I think the correct switches for this puzzle were marked by someone."

Hannah looked around. It was a beautiful room. It was quite spacious. Green vines grew on the walls. A small, quiet stream ran next to the path. Ms. Holloway opened up the door and they went on.

"Um... Child. I'm going to need you to be very, very careful in this room. This puzzle could hurt you." She warned.

"How?"

"Well... You see... There's quite a lot of spikes involved. I'll need to to stay very close to me, alright?"

"... Okay." Hannah said, a bit alarmed. 

"We'll be okay. I promise- oh! I really should've expected this."

Both of them looked down at the small, frog-like creature that had hopped in front of them.

"Kid, this is going to sound scary, but many monsters might try to harm you. It's been so long since a human has fallen, after all. But the monsters here are very understanding! Froggit will probably leave us be if you just tell them the situation."

Hannah kneeled down in front of Froggit. "Hi, Froggit." She said gently.

Froggit, not seeming to understand, jumped up onto her head and started to kick.

"Ah-! Hey!"

She shook her head until they fell off. Her soul floated right in front of her chest, ready to help her dodge the next attack. "You're stronger than you look..."

Froggit tilted its head as Hannah spoke. Its green cheeks seemed to turn a little red at the compliment. It croaked quietly, smiling. 

"There, that's better." Ms. Holloway said, helping Hannah off of the ground. "Sometimes you just need to show a bit of love to remind others to do the same. Fighting only hurts, remember that."

"I know." Hannah said as her soul returned to her body.

"Good. Now, let's go."

They found a large bridge in front of them, leading straight to the next room. The only problem was that the bridge was completely covered in spikes.

"How is this solved...?" Hannah asked.

"The path behind us matches the one you have to take here. Some of the spikes will go down when you step on them."

"It's scary."

"Hm... Here, I have an idea," Ms. Holloway let go of Hannah's hand and kneeled down, "climb onto my back."

She followed Ms. Holloway's instruction and held onto her shoulders tight. As she stood up, she has to take a moment to steady herself.

"Ah-! It's been so long since I've given someone a piggyback ride. You're okay, right? You're not slipping or anything?"

"Mhmm!" 

"Good. Hold on tight."

They crossed the bridge safely, just like Ms. Holloway promised. Once they reached the other side, she put Hannah back on the ground. 

"Oh, I just realized something! I should probably ask, how old are you?"

"Thirteen. Fourteen soon."

"I thought you were younger... You're rather small for your age... Are you eating well?"

Hannah shook her head.

"Oh dear... I need to get something ready for you, then. If I go ahead of you, I can get dinner ready sooner. The puzzles up ahead aren't dangerous or anything. Are you okay with going on your own?"

"Uh-huh! I'll be okay."

"Okay... I think I have a little something to give you first... Aha!" 

Hannah was sort of amazed to see that the shield shaped symbol on Ms. Holloway's dress was also a huge pocket. The pockets on her light blue jeans could hardly hold a few coins.  She dug a cell phone out of the large pouch. "There it is! I got a new phone yesterday, and I forgot to throw this one away. Isn't that lucky? It should still work. I'll add my number. Just call if you need anything, okay?"

"Okay!"

So, she left Hannah with the phone. It looked pretty old, but like Ms. Holloway said, it still worked.  She put it in her bag and went forth. There were more red leaves on the floor that she hopped around in before she noticed something. In one of those piles of leaves, there was a little, yellow spark of light. She picked it up.

It was warm in her hands, like her soul. It was a kind of warmth that told her to keep going, to get through the ruins, and to stay determined.

But then she felt it again. That funny little heavy feeling. She felt it behind her, on her back.

She turned around, expecting to see something. Part of her expected to see her mother looking down on her.

But nobody came.

Her mind did things like that sometimes. She put the little yellow light back in the leaves, and she went onwards. 

 

A few monsters had run into her while she solved the puzzles, but it seemed like they wanted to be left alone for the most part, and one of them had even given her some veggies to snack on. She was sure she'd make it to the house soon, but then she ran into a ghost (like the ones people make out of sheets for Halloween) sleeping in a pile of leaves, blocking her way.

Well, they were pretending to sleep, anyways. And they weren't exactly too good at it. 

"Zzzzzzz... Zzzzz..." They repeated to themselves, occasionally opening one eye just a tiny bit before quickly closing it again.

"Excuse me-?"

"Zzzzzzzzz..."

Hannah gently poked them. They got up, looking at her and frowning.

"Oh... I was kinda hoping you would turn around. I just... I think now I'm supposed to try to kill you or something because of um... Your soul? But... I'm really not feeling up to it... Oh well. I guess it doesn't matter. I'm never good with fighting. Um... here goes... Oh... Oh no I'm already thinking about it too hard-"

Hannah floated off of the ground, ready to dodge whatever was coming.

The ghost sniffled. "Oh no... Whenever I think about someone dying, I kinda get... Emotional and useless. Um... I might cry."

"It's okay," Hannah soothed, "you should do what you want."

"Well, I mean, breaking the barrier would be neat and... Oh... I don't know... Oh dear..."

And then the tears spilled. Hannah tried to wipe them away with her hand, but they stung her skin. Instinctively, she jumped back, almost hitting the ceiling.

"Oh no. Oh goodness. Oh-"

"No one needs to fight! It's okay. I'm okay."

"Yeah I'm just kinda too tired... And useless."

"You're not useless!"

"Kid, you're... You're really sweet." The ghost gave a small smile.

"You are too."

"Um... Can... Can I show you something?"

"Yes!" Hannah said, already excited to see what it would be. She floated back towards the ghost.

The ghost's tears that were running down from their eyes started to float up onto the top of their head instead, forming some kind of accessory. In a few seconds, it was complete. They had made a little bow out of their tears. "I call it ribboo... Do you like it?"

Hannah nodded, smiling. "It's very cute! Good job."

"Oh, wow... I don't remember the last time I've met anyone so nice... I guess I don't need to take your soul after all. I should do what I enjoy. Thank you for putting up with me. I think I'll go home, now."

"Bye!"

And the ghost faded away. 

 

Hannah made it to a large house soon after, where she spotted another little yellow spark in the leaves. She gave it a gentle little tap, feeling the little stinging pain on her hands go away. She'd rest up, and then she'd get going. This place was a bit strange, but she was determined to get through and find her way home.  She went into the house, and saw Ms. Holloway come to greet her in the entryway quickly afterwards.

"There you are! You're just in time. Dinner's ready. It's a bit big, so it's alright if you don't finish it all.  Just eat as much as you can, okay? And if there's anything you don't like, you can tell me. Oh, and especially tell me if you're allergic to anything."

"Peanuts."

"I see. Do you have an epipen?"

"Don't need one. Just gives me hives."

"Okay. Thank you for telling me."

"You're welcome."

"One more thing... You don't dislike butterscotch or cinnamon, do you? I use them a lot when I bake."

"I really like cinnamon!"

"Good. Now, let's eat."

Hannah had never had such a huge dinner before, and she scarfed it all down. That was when she realized, Ms. Holloway, someone she had met maybe an hour ago, was more of a mother to her than her real mother ever was. It felt nice to know that people besides Lex cared, but she also felt even more disappointed in her mother than she already did. 

After dinner, Ms. Holloway led her upstairs and into a hallway. She stopped in front of one of the doors. "Here's your room. I put those riddle books I mentioned earlier in there, if you want to have a look. You're free to explore the house as you please until bedtime, too."

"Okay!"

"Okay. I'll be reading downstairs. Tell me if you need anything, okay?"

"Okay."

"Good."

Ms. Holloway left, and Hannah went further down the hall until she reached a mirror. She looked at it, surprised at how well her braids had survived the journey. But then there was someone else standing next to her in the mirror, someone she had never seen before. 

"Look, it's you!" They said with a big smile.

Chapter Text

Hannah blinked at the mirror, trying to see if her eyes were just playing tricks.

But that other human child was still there.

She looked down, at the birch wood floors, and then back at the mirror.

The other child was still there. "... Hello?"

"What's wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost! Well... I guess we have seen a ghost. But- oh- I- I'm so sorry, I should've said something earlier. I didn't mean to startle you. I just like talking to myself in the mirror... I was waiting for you to say something, honestly."

Hannah wasn't any less confused. "Who are you? You're only in the mirror. I never met you."

"Well, um... Hello, friend. I am Webby. I fell into the Underground, too! But that was a long time ago. My memory is a little fuzzy, honestly. I just woke up in that flower bed when you had fallen. I should go say hi to Mom, huh? Hey, wait a minute, does this make us sisters???"

She was quiet for a moment, taking in all of Webby's words. But she noticed something, focusing on her talking. "... You're the voice I heard at the top of the mountain. You were calling for help."

"That's... Crazy. I heard a voice at the top of the mountain, too. But it wasn't yours or anything. But how would you hear me? That was so long ago."

"I don't know."

"Huh... I always thought I was alone as the weird kid. But I guess not. We're really alike, huh? We both hear things, we both wear striped sweaters, we both can see those yellow sparks on the ground, and we both have a red soul! Does that make you my second best friend?"

"Who's your first best friend?"

"You'll see her in just a sec, she'd amazing. They brought me home after I fell. I need to find her! I bet she's in our room."

Before Hannah could ask anything else, Webby left. She was still chattering away, though.

"Helloooooooo!! It's me, Webby! I'm home!... What the-  hey- um... Can you open the door for me?? I can't grab the knob... Oh... I'm not... Ha... Ahaha... Silly me, I really should've known. I'm going downstairs. WOAH-!"

Webby came flying back, phasing through Hannah before landing on the floor. She had a slight smile on her face, though it looked a bit sad. She seemed to be visible outside of the mirror. She was semitransparent, and she emitted a faint red glow. Hannah could get a better look at her. She looked a little bit younger than her. Her skin was quite pale, but her cheeks had a noticable pink tint.

"I get it now," she said, "I'm dead... I really am dead. I never was scared of death, but... I didn't want to believe it. That I really wasn't coming back this time. But your determination... A bit of it rubbed off on me when you fell, huh? That's so weird. I totally thought I'd see her again, but she's probably gone too..." 

She laughed a kind of quiet, pitiful laugh. "That's not funny..."

Hannah offered her hand to her. She took it, the red glow surrounding her growing for just a second, and she got up. 

"I'm sorry they're gone. But you're still here." Hannah said.

"That's true... I thought my determination had run out. It feels good to have it again, even if it's not exactly mine... Do you know what determination is? And what it can really do? Because I didn't learn for awhile."

"What does it do?"

"... Are you scared of death?"

Hannah was quiet. She shook her head.

"That's because, if your determination is strong enough, you can defy it. You can do anything. I remember one day I saw Mom and Dad get into this huge fight, and guess what?"

"What?"

"I could just go back and stop it, and I did. I asked to water the flowers with Dad, so I could talk his ears off and he'd take longer and the fight wouldn't start. I wanted us to be a happy family that badly. It's a little scary now that I think about it... Letting go of that... I don't remember what happened, or why I died. But it must've been hard. I hope you won't  use that power for bad things. You promise to treat them like people, right...?"

"Of course. But how do you go back?"

"Those yellow lights we can see are like... Checkpoints, kind of.  When you touch one, it sort of connects with your soul. So they recognize each other. It gives your soul a place to go. That's sort of what it feels like, anyways."

"Okay..." Hannah nodded. She'd have to keep that in mind, just in case. "You're human. Do you miss the surface?"

"I..." Webby frowned. "I'm not a human. I'm a monster made out of spider's silk. I can't be human. They're close minded and violent. There's some things that are good about them, but it's not even close to enough. They sealed monsters underground out of a fear that was completely nonsensical! I was just born on the surface by accident."

"I've felt like that before. But my sister's waiting for me. I need to go home."

Webby didn't respond for a few moments. "Well, I guess I'm kinda stuck with you. I'll be supporting you."

"Thank you!"

"... I wanna look through those riddle books."

 

Hannah and Webby picked apart the puzzles in their room carefully, page by page. They were always so satisfying to solve. Webby was already feeling like a friend to Hannah. 

"I just noticed something." She said.

"What is it?" Hannah asked.

"This isn't my old room. It's just a replica. That's weird."

Then, there was a knock on the door. Hannah got up to open it. Ms. Holloway was there.

"I have a surprise for you downstairs," she said, "come back to the dining room. I'm sure you'll love it."

Very curious, Hannah went out the door and down the stairs, leaving Ms. Holloway behind her. She made it to the dining room and gasped, beaming at the plate put on her placemat. "Pie!"

"Yep! Cinnamon and butterscotch pie. I added some extra cinnamon for you, too."

She dug into the slice of pie like there was no tomorrow.  It was sweet and sugary, but not to an overwhelming degree. The crust was nice, crisp, and warm. It was gone in minutes.

"You plowed through that! I don't know if  I've ever seen someone eat so fast."

"It's the best pie ever. That's why." Hannah explained.

Ms. Holloway chuckled. "I see. Well, there's plenty more for you to eat in the fridge. It should last us a week or so."

That gave Hannah an idea. "Can I bring a slice with me?"

"What do you mean? You're not having pie in bed, silly."

She nodded. She'd have to pack a slice tomorrow instead, since that was when she'd be leaving. The night was almost over, anyways. She read with Webby a bit more, brushed her teeth, and then she was off to bed. The next morning, her and Webby went downstairs. Hannah went to a cabinet in the kitchen and got out  a bowl with a lid. It wouldn't be the best container to put a piece of pie in, but the bottom of the bowl was pretty wide. She opened the fridge, and then Ms. Holloway came in.

"Getting breakfast?"

"... Sort of." Hannah shrugged.

"Sort of?"

She took the pie out of the fridge, and put it on the counter. Ms. Holloway laughed.

"Kid, I'm really glad you like it, but I don't think you should have pie for breakfast. You can have some for a snack later."

"I'm bringing it with me."

"Where? Do you want to go on a trip today?"

"On my way home."

Ms. Holloway tilted her head. "Are you playing a game?" She asked politely.

"No."

"Kid, this  is  your home. I know it'll take some getting used to, but you'll love it here. We'll be like a family."

"... Don't even know my name."

Ms. Holloway frowned apologetically. "I should've asked you. I'm so sorry. What is your name?"

"Hannah. Don't be sorry. You care for no reason. That's what I meant."

"I... I care about you because you're deserving of it. What other reason do you need?"

"None. That's what I meant."

"... Oh! I see what you mean, now. It came across the wrong way, is all. Try to be more careful with your words if you can help it, okay?"

"Okay."

"Now, put the pie away."

Hannah put a slice into her bowl, and popped the lid onto it.

"Hannah."

"I'm taking it with me."

"But you're not going anywhere. This is your home now. Put it in the fridge."

"No."

Ms. Holloway sighed, shaking her head. "You're pretty stubborn, huh?"

"She used to say that to me all the time." Webby said, a bit quietly.

"Yes. Very stubborn." Hannah nodded.

Ms. Holloway laughed. "Still, you need to put the pie away."

"I need to find my sister."

She took her gaze off of Hannah, frowning again. She was quiet.

"That's the face she makes when she feels bad," Webby said, "we're getting somewhere..."

"I... I need to go do something, okay? Please just... Wait for me, and be good." Ms. Holloway still looked away from Hannah.

"Okay."

As she left, Hannah put the slice of pie in her backpack. 

"Follow her." Webby said.

So, they did. They followed Ms. Holloway into the basement: a long, purple corridor. They caught up quickly.

"Hannah," she warned, "go back upstairs and wait for me, okay? I'm not doing anything all that exciting. Promise."

"Figure out what she's doing and pretend to be excited by it." Webby suggested. Hannah shook her head at that, continuing to follow Ms. Holloway in silence.

"I'm doing this for your safety, okay? If you go out there, you won't make it. I'd rather you stay here and let the surface go than die alone, okay? I'm going to destroy the exit to the ruins. I hate to keep you away from your sister, but you won't see her again no matter what you do."

Hannah, despite what her gut told her, followed on anyways.

"If you leave the ruins, they... King Hol- The king will kill you."

"That's not true," Webby protested, "he's so nice, he'd never."

Hannah wasn't sure who to believe, but regardless, she kept following.

"Go upstairs, Hannah. This is your final warning."

She didn't go upstairs. They reached a large door at the end of the corridor. The air was so cold down there, yet a tingling, soft warmth flowed through the room.

"She's gonna use her magic! You can feel it in the air! I mean- I'm sorry you're stuck here, but it'll look really cool!" Webby exclaimed, trying to not sound TOO excited.

"I'm going home." Hannah said simply.

"You want to leave so badly...?" Ms. Holloway asked, finally turning around to look down at her.

She nodded.

Ms. Holloway went quiet, looking down. She sighed, and looked back at Hannah. "I don't want you to feel like I think you're weak. I'm sure you're very smart, and kind, and those are very strong things to be. But not everyone will be moved by just patience. Monsters want your soul, and they'll get it no matter the weight it puts on their conscience. I can't guarantee you'll survive out there."

"I will. I have to.'

"Then you'll have to prove it to me. Show me you're strong enough to survive."

Hannah hesitated, growing tense. Webby tried to pat her shoulder, but all that really did was make it cold when her hand phased through it.

"It's okay. She'll make this a fair fight. If she notices you're hurt bad, she'll stop. I promise." She reassured.

Hannah gently floated off of the ground, scared, but still determined to get back home. 

Ms. Holloway was hesitant, too. She stared up at her for a few moments before she held out her hands, and a fireball appeared in either one.

"Don't worry," Webby soothed, "magic fire can't burn you like non-magic fire. It'll hurt to get hit by, but you're not gonna lose your hair or anything. You got this."

"But I don't want to fight. Only hurts." Hannah said.

"Hm... Patience is key, here. When you wait, your feelings don't. We'll get through without hurting her, promise."

The fire drifted downwards from the ceiling, lingering on the floor when it landed.

Immediately put on alert, Hannah moved out of the path the flames took, only to see that their course swayed back and forth.

The fire came swinging right into her. The pain only stung at first before it intensified. Hannah sucked in air through her teeth, holding herself as if that would somehow soothe the pain. She stared at Ms. Holloway.

And she did not fight back.

"You're going to have to hurt people if you want to survive out there. You're not proving anything like this."

"I don't wanna hurt you."

Ms. Holloway raised a hand above her head, and waved it slowly. A large group of flames glided from it, towards Hannah.

She went still, waiting, looking for that perfect moment to evade the attack. When she noticed it glided to one side, she went to the other. Safe.

But for a few moments she forgot how or why it happened, when she felt a burst of heat dangerously close to her face.

She couldn't shake the feeling that everything was happening at once.

And she did not fight back.

"Fight me or run away!"

The magic drifted down from the ceiling again. Feeling unconscious yet as focused as ever, Hannah weaved in between the flames, using all of her effort to not flinch and freeze when she felt the heat so close to herself. Her body seemed to move on its own.

As strange as that feeling was, and how much adrenaline ran through her...

She did not fight back.

"They'll tear you apart out there if you keep acting like this!"

She could barely process the words before more fire appeared. Only feeling heat and the awful, sick feeling in her stomach, she frantically tried to dodge.

The magic came right for her face. She tried to hold her tears back the best she could as that awful sting just grew worse. She looked  at Ms. Holloway, and she was just staring at her, hands shaking, unbreakable focus in her eyes.

Focus. She needed to focus. She needed to stay patient and aware.

And she did not fight back.

"What are you doing...?? You won't last a second out there!"

But she found it hard to focus. She tried to talk to herself, to hold herself back from instantly dragging her shaking body to some random place without thinking it through. 

She really was never the patient type, though. Her attempted dodges just became more, and more reckless. Her whole body was starting to ache. But she still couldn't fight. 

And neither could Ms. Holloway. Her attacks had started to just move away from Hannah, actively avoiding her.

Until they just stopped

Both of them were quiet for a few moments, taking a pause to breathe. Hannah grounded herself, and her mind. The warmth of her soul in her chest was soothing, at least.

"Hannah... We don't have to do this, okay?" Ms. Holloway said.

"Please, I wanna go home."

"Just go back upstairs. That's your home."

"I miss my sister..."

"We can be happy together."

"She's worried about me."

"We can be like a family."

"She's probably going insane... She's scared."

"I'll make sure you're safe. I'll give you everything you need."

"She'd love to meet you, if she could... You're way better than our... Mother."

"You're safer here."

"We need to stick together. She needs it."

Ms. Holloway didn't reply.

"We could go together!"

No response.

"You could be our new mom when we get out."

"... I can't save even a single child. How sad..."

"Let's go together."

Ms. Holloway sighed. "Hannah, I'd love to, but... I can't. I've abandoned the rest of the underground. If I go back out there, it'll cause too much of a stir. It'll just make more monsters notice you."

"... But I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too."

Hannah held onto Ms. Holloway, hugging her tight. She hugged back.

"The ruins are small when you get used to them. You wouldn't be happy here. It was selfish of me to lie and say that you would be... But I can stay lonely for a little bit longer. I'll survive. Be careful out there, okay? And be good."

"I love you, Mom."

"... I love you too, my child."

They both let go of each other. Ms. Holloway lingered for a moment before going back through the corridor, moving out of Hannah's way.

She opened the door, and left the ruins.

There was another hall in front of her. As she kept walking forwards, Webby broke the silence.

"Hm. This is strange. Usually the grand hall would be here... That place is beautiful... Mom must've moved, huh? She put so much effort into making this house look just like my old home that I didn't even notice. And I guess Dad's not there right now... He's not gonna kill you, though. I don't know why she said that."

"Your dad is the king?" 

"Yes. And he was so nice. When people saw him, they expected him to be the type to rule bravely and boldly and stuff. Like the king from the era of wars. But he wasn't like that at all. People started calling him Duke, since he was such a pushover for a king. It just kinda  stuck, though. He really liked it. He was amazing... The best dad ever..."

"I never had a dad. Left before I was born. My old mom got upset about it. She's really mean..."

"My parents on the surface were the exact same way."

"Oh noooo, you poor wittle meow-meows!"

The mocking voice grabbed their attention. Hannah glared down at the talking lily in front of her. "Lilla??"

"What's her problem?" Webby asked.

"You think you're so cute, huh, kid? Wouldn't hurt a fly. Won't fight back at all. You just sit there and look sad until they feel bad... Oh, that rhymes!"

Hannah raised an eyebrow.

"Look, maybe this got you a happy ending this time, but what are you gonna do if you run into some murderous, immortal maniac?? 'Nooo pwease don't kill me, I'll give you candy and hugs because EVERYONE needs wuv!' How long do you think that'll work?"

Hannah decided it was time to use the words she heard from her sister. "Lilla, you're a bitch."

"Hannah!" Webby scolded.

Lilla didn't respond for a moment. "Well... At least you have SOME self respect. Just... Maybe don't try calmly talking to people who are literally trying to kill you and you'll very easily avoid getting your ass kicked, m'kay?"

She dug back into the ground, and disappeared once more.

"She's... Really con-dim-en-ting." Webby said, crossing her arms.

"... Conferencing." Hannah corrected, incorrectly.

"Whatever. Let's go."

The went onwards, out of the ruins, and into a snowy forest.

Something felt very, very off.

Chapter Text

There was no doubt about it.

Hannah was being watched, or followed. By who or what, she just wasn't sure. She was left to trudge uncertainly through the snow, taking frequent glances behind her. She always felt like she'd see someone.

But nobody came.

She continued to trudge through the snow, until a loud SNAP came from under her feet. She yelped, jumping up. 

"It's just a twig! You stepped on it and it broke." Webby giggled.

"Startled me..."

"It's alright. Let's get out of here."

Hannah kept walking until she reached a bridge. There were some wooden bars lined up on it, but they were too far apart to actually block anyone. She would've crossed, but she felt a freezing cold sensation on her back. Then, she heard a voice.

"human."

Not every monster would be as nice as Ms. Holloway, would they?

"don't you know how to greet a new pal?"

Or maybe this one would be?

"turn around, and shake my hand."

Hannah turned around, and held her arm out, but it had gone straight through the monster's body. The monster screamed, and so did Hannah. But once she has realized the monster was a ghost, that screaming died down and the ghost laughed. But somehow they were frowning at the same time??

"it's been so long since i've actually gotten anyone with that, wow! it's always funny, though."

Hannah stared silently.

"so you're a human, yeah? that's hilarious." The ghost said, still frowning.

"... What?"

"i'm uh... okay my name takes a little bit of explaining, huh? so me and my friend just showed up here one day with no memories of our identity or anything. we had to give ourselves names, but we had no ideas so uh... one day, i was typing something out for whatever reason and she said 'hey, let's name ourselves after fonts!'. so naturally, i picked the font that resonated with me the most. so yeah, my name is bastard. great to meet ya."

"... Bastard??? Your name is Bastard??" Hannah asked.

"yeah, it's bastard."

"I like her. She's carefree. That's how I wanna be." Webby said.

"... Is there a name other than Bastard you like?"

"bastard or comic sans."

At the mention of comic sans, Hannah and Webby felt a strong power radiating from another timeline. The kind of strong power that only a character turned into an overused but still very much loved internet meme could radiate.

"I'll go with Bastard." Hannah decided.

"sweet. here, i should bring you to town. it's a long walk, though, just warning you."

Hannah and Bastard crossed the bridge together. On the other side, was mainly more snow. But there was also a little stand, which no one was at. There was also a lamp with a scarf draped over it that was sitting out in the snow for no reason whatsoever.

"oh, there's lesser squirrel's scarf. i'll have to tell lydian to tell him... speaking of lydian, she's probably on her way over here. you should hide behind that conveniently shaped lamp with that conveniently placed scarf on it, got it, kid?"

Not even bothering to ask, Hannah hid behind the conveniently shaped lamp with the conveniently placed scarf on it. If it weren't for they scarf, her braids would've been in plain sight.

"also, just so you know, lydian's really loud. She Talks Like This, And It Takes Some Getting Used To."

"THAT'S NOT HOW I TALK AT ALL."

"you're right. it's how I wish you talked."

"YOUR NAME SUITS YOU... WHO WERE YOU TALKING TO EARLIER, ANYWAYS?"

"this conveniently shaped lamp with a conveniently places scarf on it. wanna look behind it?"

"NO."

"okay, you're really loud right now, even by your standards."

"It's Really Fun To Prove You Wrong! Okay? Also, Isn't That Lesser Squirrel's Scarf?"

"yeah."

"Why Didn't You Tell Me To Tell Him That It Was Over Here?"

"i forgot. also, you'd figure it out just by looking at me. i'm pretty... transparent. ba-dum tsss."

"Oh Yes Haha, We're Ghosts. Haha... Why Aren't You Guarding The Bridge?"

"this lamp just really captures your attention, you know? you really should get a good look at it from all angles."

"Bastard, This Is Ridiculous. I Don't Have Time To Look At Lamps. I Need To Capture A Human!"

"right, right. sorry for distracting you. get back to work."

"You Don't Tell Me What To Do! I Need To Get Back To Work."

"alright, kid, it's safe. come on out."

Hannah came out from behind the lamp, playing with her hair and fidgeting with it. "What's Lydian working on?" She asked.

"some kinda project, i guess. that's what i call it. she wants to capture a human so she can join the royal guard. so, she spends all her time making these little traps and puzzles... and she takes cooking lessons from the captain. she's really a sweetheart, though. she can't hurt you much at all."

"Royal guard?" Hannah asked.

"yup. this group of monsters tasked with defending the king and collecting human souls. the squirrels keep watch here in snowdin. you won't need to worry about them, though. actually... can you do me a favor, kid?"

"What is it?"

"it'd be great if you could go along with lydian's puzzles and stuff. she's gonna be so excited, it'll be awesome."

"... Alright." Hannah didn't see any harm in that.

"thank you so much. i'll be up ahead, then, alright? see ya later."

Bastard followed Lydian, down the snowy road. 

"I knew the underground wouldn't be dangerous. It's just like it was when I was alive! Everyone's so friendly. And you're gonna love Snowdin! Sometimes we would visit on the weekends. And it's just an awesome place, trust me. " Webby chirped excitedly.

Hannah smiled at her enthusiasm, and followed the road through the trees. She found a fork in the road, and a box with a sign next to it. She decided to investigate the sign and box.

This is a box, the sign read, you can store things in it, and they'll appear in all the other boxes like this one around the underground! Isn't that amazing and excruciatingly convenient? A little bit like that lamp back there... - Sincerely, a box lover

Hannah opened the box. There was just a  tough, orange, worn glove in it. She decided to put it on, for warmth. Taking another look around the area, she noticed a yellow spark in the snow. It's gentle light still persisted in the cold, like Hannah's determination to get home did. It had such a soothing aura.

Now, she had to figure out which path to take. She decided to turn away from the original path. She just found a riverbank there, though. A few monsters were talking nearby. One of them, a large, flashy, bird-like creature, seemed to be putting on a show. In the audience was a monster with a beautiful, tall cap made out of exquisite, sparkling ice. The other monster was... Jerry. They were simply Jerry. He was just being tolerated. No one actually wanted him there.

"Okay, you've been a tough crowd," the bird-like monster said, "but this next one will have you HOWLING, I swear it."

"It's okay, it's okay. I get it. Your jokes haven't quite been as good as usual. You keep staring at my amazing hat, and it throws you off. Happens to the best of us."

"No, that's not-"

Jerry interrupted with a loud sneeze. He didn't even cover his nose or anything.

"Look, Ice Cap, I'm used to your hat now! I swear!"

"It doesn't matter," Ice Cap said, "we're here for jokes."

"The only joke here is your parents's marriage." Jerry quipped.

"Jerry!! What the hell!?" Ice Cap shouted.

"What?"

"Don't say that! Snowdrake's mom DIED! It's been a really hard time for him and his family."

Jerry crossed his long, thin arms. "It was just a joke."

Snowdrake frowned, looking down at his feet. "Well, it was very insensitive and it wasn't funny..."

"I'm not apologizing."

"Hey Jerry, look," Ice Cap suddenly yelled, "one of your biggest fans just showed up!"

"Huh? Where?"

While Jerry was looking away, Ice Cap and Snowdrake ditched. They ran straight into Hannah.

"Okay??" She asked, looking down at them as they tripped over her feet.

The two monster teens got up. Snowdrake shook his head, getting all the snow off of it and flinging some onto Ice Cap and Hannah. 

"Who are you??" Ice Cap asked, "actually, WHAT are you?"

"Hey, Cappy, calm down. They're just a kid. You can tell by the striped shirt, see?"

"Oh, yeah! Red with yellow stripes, like ketchup and fries. Nice colors."

"Thank you." Hannah smiled. 

"But seriously, what are you?" Snowdrake asked.

She decided that these monsters didn't seem like they wanted to hurt anyone. "Human."

"Wait, seriously?!"

She nodded.

"Woah! I mean... You seem super cool but... If I got your soul I'd be like a hero and stuff! This is... A moral dilemma!... I should not sound that excited about that."

Ice Cap laughed.

"No, it's not funny, not a joke-"

"But it is."

"You like to tell jokes?" Hannah asked.

"Snowdrake does," Ice Cap said, "he's trying to be a comedian at least I think. I just like my hat. It's quite fashionable. Do you like it?"

"Yes. Lots and lots."

"I knew it!"

"Okay, I'm gonna tell you a joke! This one's a new one. You'll like it!" Snowdrake announced.

Hannah and Ice Cap listened attentively.

"What's a snowman's favorite noodle dish?"

"I don't know," Hannah replied, "what's their favorite noodle dish?"

"Macaroni and 'freeze'!"

"Oh my god..." Ice Cap muttered, looking down.

Hannah made a small sort of snort. That joke reminded her of the ones Lex's boyfriend would make. They were awful, but very charming.

"Yes! Someone laughed!!" Snowdrake beamed.

"It's a miracle, honestly."

"Can I try a joke?" Hannah asked.

"Sure. The floor is yours." Snowdrake nodded.

"Okay..." She stayed quiet, thinking. She looked at Webby, hoping she'd have advice.

"Try making a pun. Monsters all seem to really like those," she suggested, "there's squirrels around here, right? Try a pun about squirrels."

"Okay... Um..." Hannah shifted around and tapped her feet.

"You can do it!" Snowdrake encouraged.

"Why should you never call a squirrel crazy?"

"Why?" He asked.

"They like the term 'nuts' more."

Snowdrake snickered.

"Not bad," Ice Cap admitted, "not bad at all."

Hannah smiled, taking a bow.

"Do you have anymore?" Snowdrake asked.

"I think I should get going," Hannah said, "I'm sorry."

"That's alright! It was great meeting you."

"Great meeting you, too."

 

Hannah returned to the path she had been following before. She stopped when she saw Bastard and Lydian talking to each other, watching and listening.

"hey, lydian. i think there's someone coming down this path: someone you'd really like to meet." Bastard was telling the other ghost. She was still frowning, which didn't match her tone of voice at all.

"Someone I'd Like To Meet?!" Lydian exclaimed before turning to face Hannah. She was beaming. "Oh Wow! Hiiii!"

"yup. i found one."

"But... Bastard. Are You Sure We're Ready For Another Pet Rock? The One We Have Should Get To Know Us Better. What If It Feels Scared When We Introduce Another One Out Of The Blue??"

"no, not the rock. look at what's in front of the rock."

Lydian stared a bit more before she started to spin around in place. Bastard decided to do the same. After their spinning had ended, their gaze landed right back on Hannah.

"Oh My Gosh! Bastard, Is That... A Human???"

"looks pretty human to me."

"Woah! Um... Ahem! HUMAN! Don't Be Afraid- Actually, Do Be Afraid! I Am The Great Lydian! And I Will Capture You With My Super Amazing Things. Like Traps And Puzzles!"

"I um... Am a little afraid." Hannah replied honestly.

"Shaking In Your Boots, I Would Imagine?"

"They're sneakers."

"Shaking In Your Sneakers?"

"Yes."

"I'm Already Doing A Great Job! The Puzzles Are Deeper In The Forest. So, You Can Try To Solve Them And Walk Forth... If You Dare! We'll Be Waiting!"

Lydian and Bastard left. Hannah decided to dare to walk forth.

This is where her adventure would really begin. She was filled with determination.