Light. A shaft of amber sunshine illuminates the bed of golden flowers where you lay in an otherwise completely dark room. Pollen drifts and dances in the sunbeam, catching and reflecting it like glitter, and settling on your skin and clothes, giving you a faint yellow tinge.
Why you are laying in a patch of flowers, you can’t remember. You also can’t remember where you are, how you got here, or what you had been doing prior. Normally a realization like this would have alarmed you, or at the very least caused you a great deal of concern if it were not for the fact that you were in a tremendous amount of pain.
Your head hurts. A lot. Why and how are a mystery to you, but you do know one thing- your arm is also twisted funny to make your hand snag in your hair, and you are laying on that too and it also hurt a considerable deal. At least you didn’t think it was broken.
You try to get up, or at least roll over to relieve your shoulder from bearing all of your weight, but it might as well have been impossible. Each of your limbs feels like they are encased in cement and your brain can’t get more than one to move at a time, much less in tandem. After what feels like hours of straining in quicksand, you manage to roll from your side to your stomach and pull your hand free from your tangled hair. You let gravity drop it in front of your face and spend several minutes struggling to comprehend why it was coated with warm, red fluid.
That… that's blood, right? Your blood. Why are you bleeding? Did you fall? Were you attacked?
“Golly, that was some fall you had!” A chipper voice says somewhere in front of you. You try to pinpoint the source, but your eyes refuse to go into focus and leave you seeing double.
“And of all the ways you could have landed, you had to land directly on your head, didn’t you?” You detect motion about a foot from your face, but you can’t see anything apart from petals. You try in vain to imagine who is speaking to you, but it's too much of an effort. Lucky for you, the voice reveals themselves a moment later. It's... a flower?
“Boy that is one nasty crack you got in your skull. You’re probably going to bleed to death, arench’ya?” You watch the flower with vacant eyes, your tongue and lips flopping as you try, and fail, to form words. Something about the combination of his morbid words and cheery grin didn’t make sense to you, but you couldn’t figure out why.
“Gee, what a shame,” the flower goes on as your vision starts to go fuzzy and the very act of breathing becomes more of a chore. “Not like it matters much. You are exactly what I've been waiting for, for months. Don’t worry, I’ll put you out of your misery.”
The air above you is suddenly punctuated by a dozen popping noises as large bullet-shaped seeds circle overhead. You roll your eyes and strain your neck the best you can, desperately trying to make sense of what's going on. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good.
“Die,” The flower cackles as the seeds close in-
-but they never hit you.
“W-what?” The flower sputters, but never finishes his thought as a jet of fire roasts away the projectiles and nearly incinerates his petals. With a shriek of terror, the weed retreats into the earth before your very eyes.
“What a miserable creature, torturing such a poor innocent youth,” a new voice, calm and kind, says from the murky edges of the room, and you watch as a tall, elderly woman emerges from the shadows. “Hello, my name is Toriel, and I- Oh my goodness! You are seriously injured!”
You are fighting to stay conscious now, but getting a clear look at your savior shocks you awake a bit more. This woman was unlike anything you have ever seen- with long ears, horns and… fur?
That isn’t right, you think on reflex, but the more you think about it in the thickening haze that was your mind, the less sense it makes. If she was something you considered “not right” then… then what was?
You… you can’t remember.
“There, there, my child. Do not fear. I will heal you.” The furry lady (or was she a goat? A floppy eared rabbit?) crouches low, and with extremely delicate hands, lifts you from the flowers. She is larger than you realize for she cradles you with ease in the crook of one arm while she strokes your head with the opposite hand. Her touch is gentle and warm, and surprisingly soothing. With each pass of her hand, the pain ebbs just a little more, and takes away a bit of your fear with it. Your eyelids begin to droop without you noticing.
“No, no, my child,” the woman warns with a firm squeeze on your bad arm, shooting needles of pain through your shoulder and forcing you awake against your will. “You must not fall asleep with a head injury, whatever you do. I will take you someplace safe, but talk to me so I know you are still awake.”
You twitch your lips in an attempt to say “okay”, but you can’t even mouth the words.
“Where did you come from, my child?” Toriel asks. You think about it and… you… you realize don’t know.
“Dn’no…” you mumble incoherently.
“You do not know?” Toriel’s face turns concerned. “Well, then tell me your name.”
You try to recall and notice with growing horror that you don’t remember.
“Dunno…” Your voice wavers in distress, and Toriel’s expression shifts to alarmed.
“Do you at least remember your age, my child?”
You try, you really, really do try to remember, to find the answer for her, but for some reason you just can’t. Your throat catches and you can’t help but whine on the verge of tears. Why is she asking you so many questions? Why can’t you remember?
Your eyes dart, desperately looking for an answer when they catch sight of your own hand, sticky and scarlet. You squeeze your fist instinctively, a blurry memory of some nursery rhyme triggered by the sight of your fingers.
’Five fingers, five toes, for hand and foot, that’s how it goes,’
“F-five?” you say at last, hoping that the answer would please the goat-lady enough to let you rest. Toriel gasps.
“My child…” the look she gives you is so sad and heartbroken. Oh no, did you answer it wrong? “You are barely more than a babe. You poor thing. Do not fear. I will take care of you. Everything will be alright.”
It’s all too much for you. You heard her words, but they no longer had meaning. The expression on her face combined with your pain and confusion is enough to overload your scatted mind and cause you to weep uncontrollably.
Why did everything hurt? What did you say wrong that made her so upset? And why couldn’t you remember?
It was unbearable, and despite her request, you unintentionally cry yourself to sleep.
Images of people and strangers flash in your mind’s eye too quickly for you to make out, and dissolve too fast for you to catch.
Some part of your brain screams at you to grab them, hold on to them with every ounce of your strength, unless you want to lose them forever. You try to obey, to seize the memories that were slipping through your fingers like grains of sand, but you might as well have been trying to lasso the wind. The visions are fast and fleeting, and another even more overwhelming force in your head was beginning to press down on you, silently urging you to just let it all go and sleep.
It was no contest. The heavy weight of desire won you over with ease. Tired of fighting for reasons you aren’t even sure of any more, you simply give up and let yourself slip deeper into blissful unconsciousness.
You come back around to a throbbing ache at the back of your skull and the itchy sensation of thick gauze wrapped around the crown of your head. How long you had been asleep, you do not know, but regaining consciousness when each beat of your heart could be felt like a hammer smashing against an anvil in every cell in your body was borderline unbearable. You were alive and breathing and in a world of pain. How dare your own body betray you like this.
The first thing you realize is you’ve regained a considerable amount of motor control. Your eyes see clearly, your arms and legs move the way you tell them to, and your mouth works again, although it feels uncomfortably dry, like you recently tried to swallow a dish rag.
The next thing you notice is the room you’re in. It's considerately dim lit for your aching head and tired eyes, but apart from that everything in it is unfamiliar. This isn’t your room.
Your pulse spikes in a panic and you instantly regret it when it only causes the pounding in your skull to increase tenfold. You squeeze your eyes shut and squeeze out some tears as you force yourself to take several deep breaths to slow down your heart.
You try to think to distract yourself. ‘This isn’t your room,’ you had thought, but if it wasn’t, then whose was it, and more importantly what was yours?
Your room had-… your room was-… you… you don’t know.
Fear begins to creep back into your chest, chilling you to your very core. You still can’t remember. Frantically, you trace back your mental steps. There had been Toriel the goat woman, a talking flower, and you lying on a bed of flowers coated in your own blood, but before that… nothing.
It was like trying to put together a jigsaw with only half of the pieces. Desperately you search the flashbacks for clues, for anything that might help you remember what happened.
You start with Toriel. She said she would heal you and take you some place safe, and she had. She had also called you her child, and-
Child. “My child.”
The word alone was enough to help you recall fragments of some linguistic tree. Child. Children were a part of a family. Families had brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, fathers… and mothers. Mothers had children. And Toriel had called you her child.
Did that mean… did that mean she was your mother?
If that were true, then why did she bother to introduce herself to you? Did she realize you had lost your memory? You try to recall the conversation she had with you, but can’t remember anything more than impressions and feelings from the exchange, only a lot of sadness and pain. But mothers care for and protect their children, didn’t they? And she had kept you safe and made you better. It only seemed logical…
Carefully, very carefully, you sit up and slide your legs over the edge of the bed. The effort is enough to make you see spots and it takes you a couple of minutes to stand up for fear of fainting. The room spins when you finally push yourself to your feet, and you stagger to the door, gripping to the frame like a life line.
After a handful ragged breaths, you slowly shuffle down the unfamiliar hallway and stop in the entrance of the den.
There she is, sitting in the firelight, pouring over a dozen medical books all opened to pictures of heads and skulls belonging to creatures of various shapes and sizes.
You try to say something, but your tongue feels thick in your mouth, and you end up clearing your throat instead. Toriel hears and looks up.
“My child,” she inhales, her face a mixture of worry and relief. “You are awake. Tell me, can you remember what happened?”
You shake your head a fraction. The miniscule movement is enough to give you a migraine. Toriel’s eyes widen and her lips go taunt.
“What about where you are from?” You shake your head.
“Your name?” You shake your head again.
“That is not a good sign,” she whispers. You swallow and take a hesitant breath, nervous for what you were about to do next.
“M-mom?” you say experimentally, voice trembling. Toriel looks at you in surprise. Oh no, was that bad? Were you wrong? Before you can think too much about it, her face softens.
“Yes, my child?” She didn’t correct you. So were you right? Was she just surprised you remembered?
“Can… Can’t you just tell me what happened?” you plead. “I… I don’t remember anything, but if you just tell me, i-it… might help.”
“My child, I…” Toriel falters, trying to find the right words. “I really cannot. My books say this is something you must do on your own if you wish to get better.”
“Please, Mom!” your voice cracks and your legs shake, threatening to give out from under you at any second. “I don’t even remember who I am! At least just tell me my name!”
“Y-your name?” Toriel stutters. Her eyes dart, looking everywhere but at you. “Your name is… your name is…” It’s several agonizing seconds before she finally gives in and answers.
“My Child… your name… is Chara.”