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Mother - Chapter 13

by Zoom


If I made a list of what I want to see when I regain consciousness, somewhere near the bottom of that list would be the head of a rabbit, the arms of a monkey, and the wings of a bat.

It starts with pain—the kind of mind-splitting, debilitating pain that would make an axe to the head pale in comparison. My eyes crack open the width of a sheet of paper. They must be swollen because that’s how far they’ll go.

Then reality floods in. The earthy scent of grass and dirt. The sensation of falling in slow motion. The distant babble of Conrad’s voice. A medley of sparkling colours swirling in the background. And most prominent of all; the head of a rabbit, the arms of a monkey, and the wings of a bat.

I swing an arm, miss, then sweep at the monstrosity again, brushing it off my chest—that means I’m on my back, then. So the colours overhead, the giant clouds of emerald and violet clashing in an ocean of black, must be . . . galaxies. I’m staring up at the night sky and its transparent view of the ethers.

The steady falling sensation—except it’s more like sliding now I’ve got my bearings—plucks my attention. And there’s something else; an encircling pressure on my ankles. Shackles? No, hands! I’m being dragged!

“You’re saying you came to this world by accident?”

“Not by accident. We meant to come here,” Conrad says. “It’s just that your world is really different from ours, and Hen doesn’t have the imagination for it. So even though he wanted to come, he didn’t at the same time. That’s why his brains got scrambled and he couldn’t breathe.”

“That sounds irritating.”

“Tell me about it. But he’s super smart, you know! One time he beat three people at once at Chess—”

“Conrad!” I hiss.

The sliding stops and my heels thud to the ground. “Told you I didn’t kill him.”

“Hen!” Conrad’s face appears, suspended over mine, flushed but otherwise unharmed. He winces at the sight of me.

“How do I look?” I croak.

“Like a panda, if I’m honest.”


The woman’s hooded face appears opposite Conrad’s. Black eyes, like lumps of coal, bear down on me. I can almost feel the weight of them, the weight of the dark acts that turned them that way.

“Conrad,” she says, eyes fixed on mine. “Wait by the river. I need a word with your brother.”


“Go,” she says with finality. Then she finally breaks eye contact with me to glance at Conrad, and her tone softens by the slightest possible degree. “We won’t be long. Maybe you can find some of those jollyfish you keep telling me about.”

Jellyfish,” Conrad corrects her, but his face disappears. He shuffles away for a few seconds before pausing. “You’re not going to hurt him again, are you?”

“I’ll try not to.”

“Thank you.”

Accompanied by his chirping friend, his footsteps trail away, become scratchy when he reaches the riverbank, then fade out of earshot.

Which leaves the two of us alone.

“So you decided I should come after all,” I say.

“Your brother and I made an agreement. You come with us, he talks. Let’s just say he held up his end of the bargain. I’ve never known someone so small to have so much to say.”

“Well, you wanted to kidnap him. Now he’s your problem.”

She crouches so I can better see her out of my almost-closed eyes, and raises her hands. I flinch, evoking waves of agony across my forehead. But she simply removes her hood, driving away the shadows shrouding her face.

“He has no idea. Does he?”

I try to frown. The swelling in my face stops the expression before it begins. So I blink instead.

“About Kitsune,” she clarifies. “Conrad doesn’t know what the deal means for him.”

Great. Conrad has spouted off our entire life story and I’m too injured to even lift my head. I’m completely at this woman’s mercy, and that horrible realisation causes a blockade in my brain—any plan of escape I might have will inevitably slam into that wall of futility.

“If you don’t start talking, I’ll start killing,” she warns, reaching for a pouch strapped to her thigh.

“He doesn’t know,” I confirm. Her hand falls.

“But you do. You know what Kitsune wants.”

“Three pure souls in exchange for our Mother’s,” I recite. “And Conrad will get to keep his.”

“What’s left of it. He won’t be the same if he completes the deal.”

“Hence why we’re here.”

Her eyebrows rise a fraction of an inch, then reset, as if her face is elastic, straining against even the slightest inflection. “You’re here to look for an option C?”

“I’m here to set things right.”

“Well then take it from me. You don’t set things right with Kit. You just hope not to lose more than you already have.”

“That might work if I had anything left.”

She rises to her feet in one fluid motion. “Enough with the pity party. I’ve heard this story a thousand times before. You’re not going to get within a mile of Kitsune before you fall into the wrong hands. And then it’ll be a matter of time before Kitsune learns what Conrad is.”

“Kit knows my brother is pure.”

“Pure? Pfft. That’s only the half of it.”

“What’s the other half?”

She draws in a slow breath. I can only assume she’s deciding what, if anything, to tell me.

“You need to understand. The moment a human touches Kitsune’s tail, he wins. He owns that persons soul the second their vessel dies. Make no mistake, he doesn’t care whose soul he takes, just as long as it’s pure. That’s why he strikes the deal. If you want to save your soul from an eternity of torture, you gotta up Kit’s numbers, give him more souls than he’s giving back. Traditionally it’s two for one, but since he owns your Mother, Conrad owes him three. Whatever, the point is, the who isn’t important. Your Mother, Conrad, the next guy who walks past, they’re all the same to Kit. He just wants as many souls as possible.”

“What does he want with them?”

“You’ve seen the way this world listens to Conrad. Pure means power. So the more power Kit has, the more this world listens. At least, that’s the way it’s worked until now. The people of your world don’t have magic. You’re just not made that way. But when someone from your world touches Kit’s tail, it changes you. It connects you to our world. And that’s the part Kit must have screwed up real bad. Conrad’s magic should be a ghost of what it is. I’ve never seen anyone stop a Sentry like that.”

“You did. You killed it like it was nothing.”

“Oh, it was,” she says, brushing her cape with her hand. “But what Conrad did goes far beyond the simple and joyous act of killing. He overrode the spell. The only way he could have done that is if he is more powerful than the one who cast it.”

“And who’s that?”

“Take a guess.”

Pain forgotten, I shoot up into a sitting position. “Are you telling me that Conrad is more powerful than Kitsune?”

She nudges me back down with her foot. “When Kitsune finds that out, the deal won’t matter to him anymore. He’ll want Conrad’s soul. He’ll get it the moment of his death, and he won’t wait around for that to happen.”

My mind is on overdrive. This is it. Something is finally going our way. We’re not crawling in the dark anymore. There’s a real chance we can turn things around.

“Now, I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve told you all of this. I’m not usually the forthcoming type.”

“I expected as much from a woman who introduces herself with a weapon.”

“It’s never too late for a reintroduction,” she says, patting a collection of needles strapped to her thigh, making them clack together. “The thing is, I need you up to speed so you can understand why I'm letting you live. For now. You see, Conrad chewed my ear off all day, and guess what he spoke about most of the time.”

I answer with silence.

You, kid. He’s mad for you. Looks up to you for some reason.”

“So what?”

“Your brother is powerful, but wanna know what else he is? An absolute liability. He’s untrained and as disobedient as they come. Right now that’s a breeze for me to handle. But the only thing worse than Kit finding out what Conrad is, is Conrad learning it for himself. If he finds out what he’s capable of, even I wont be able to hold him back, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Conrad is the right person to be making world-changing decisions. So until we, and by ‘we’, I mean I, figure out what to do with him, you need to keep him in line. Can you handle that?”

Rushing footsteps steal our attention. She takes a step back to make way for Conrad.

“Bad news, I didn’t find any jellyfish,” he says, appearing over me, blonde head eclipsing the shimmering galaxies beyond. “But look what I got for you, Hen.”

He grins and presents a giant pink berry in front of my face. A large chunk is missing from the side, the remnants of which are splattered around Conrad’s beaming mouth.

“Eat,” comes the woman’s voice. “Then we move on.”

“Hello? Are you forgetting you knocked me into next week? I’m not moving anywhere.”

“Eat,” she says again.

Conrad gently lowers the berry closer and I gnaw a piece off. As I chew, and the peculiar taste of watermelon mixed with peanuts hits the back of my throat, the swelling in my face slips away. My forehead loosens, relaxes. The throbbing quells, enough so that I can lift my head without feeling like the world is going haywire.

Now that my body—or vessel, as the people of this world call it—has been restored, I rise to my feet gingerly, as if it’s too good to be true and I’ll wind up on my back again.

The field has started to rise into a steady incline, the river sinking deeper into the terrain, so that from a distance it wouldn’t be visible at all. At night the luminous grass is brighter than ever, as if it stored the light of the day to unleash it tenfold at night. True darkness doesn’t seem to exist in this world. Except perhaps within the eyes of those who don’t deserve to live in it.

The woman points uphill. “Henrik first. Conrad in the middle.”

“It’ll be like follow the leader!” Conrad chirps.

The woman locks eyes with me. “It definitely won’t.”

And with that we begin the trek. I lead my brother into the unknown, all the while pushing against the blockade in my brain, the wall of hopelessness, urging some kind of plan to make it over and into the realm of possibility.

A wind picks up from behind, nudging against us. Not aggressively, like the gust that attacked Conrad, but something equally purposeful about it, like a hand on our backs, urging us on.


A/N: thanks to user @SweetRabbit for pointing out a plot hole in this chapter, which I have now removed. (The woman threatened to kill Conrad if they try to run, but obviously that means his soul would then go to Kit, which she wouldn't want). I don't usually go back and make amendments unless it's really necessary, so apologies if this causes any confusion. Thanks SweetRabbit!

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446 Reviews

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Reviews: 446

Mon Jun 03, 2019 2:53 am
Tuckster wrote a review...

Hey there Zoom! I'm back again to continue this binge :) Let's get into it!

“If you don’t start talking, I’ll start killing,” she warns, reaching for a pouch strapped to her thigh.
Killing what, exactly? She can't kill Conrad because then she would lose his soul, and she can't kill Henrik because Henrik is the only thing that's motivating Conrad to obey.

“Well, then, take it from me.

So overall, I think my biggest question from this chapter is: why are Henrik and Conrad cooperating with this woman? She hasn't given them any reason to trust her, and she's clearly dangerous and capable. She also has no real leverage on them besides threatening to torture them, which she hasn't done so far, and it wouldn't be a strong threat anyhow, since she's outnumbered. Besides, it's not like Henrik to go along with something without weighing it very carefully, and it doesn't seem like he's given this much thought to what they're doing and is allowing this woman to lead them because he doesn't have a better plan—which is again not like Henrik.

I love Conrad's innocence in this chapter. He's treating this dangerous woman like a potential new friend and is babbling off, and trying to look for jellyfish and even more animals and sharing his food with his brother (although I also wanted to mention that unless these berries have magical qualities that make them super nutritious and filling, I'm not sure how all of them are managing to survive on berries). He's playful and carefree and it captures everything that makes him a compelling and loveable protagonist.

It seems to be implied in the previous chapter as well as this chapter that this woman has magical powers, which is another thing that I couldn't quite piece together. She clearly does not have a "pure" soul, since she knocks Henrik pretty hard and essentially kidnaps them and has shown them that she's capable of doing other more atrocious things. So where does her power come from? There are a lot of unanswered questions about this woman, and while some of them are good (like my questions about how she's involved, how much and how she knows all of this, and what she wants with Henrik and Conrad), there are a few that make me question this secondary world that you've created. Those are the pressing ones that need dealt with.

Also, Conrad's insane power seems a little bit too strong for my taste. While Conrad is indeed the epitome of youthful innocence, there have to be other people who have been in his position—young children who have never harmed a soul in their lives that have been in this situation before, and yet Conrad's power seem unique, at least judging by the woman's reaction to his abilities. That makes me wonder if there's something else about Conrad that could explain why he's so much more powerful than the others.

Hopefully my insights were helpful here, and as always, if you have any questions, just let me know! I love the relationship that's blossoming between the woman and Henrik, and it seems like with every chapter they're getting closer and closer to answers. I can't wait to keep reading! Excellent work, as always :D


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264 Reviews

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Reviews: 264

Fri May 10, 2019 11:16 am
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Horisun wrote a review...

Great chapter! I actually think this is one of my favorite chapters so far.
There really wasn't much story wise I felt I needed to point out, except what Liberty already said, about the introductions. (But Idk, you're the writer, so maybe you have something up your sleeve0 And the flow seemed pretty good to me, but you did forget to put an apostrophe at "Won't" You spelt it "Wont"
Other than that, I think this chapter was really, really good! I can't wait to read the next one!
Keep writing!

Zoom says...

Thanks for the review! Idk why but I always miss an apostrophe in won't haha

Thanks ^_^

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411 Reviews

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Fri May 10, 2019 8:30 am
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Liberty says...

Aiee, this is creeepy. To be honest, I don't think the woman is AS bad. She's trying to help, right? I hope so. And, I'm pretty annoyed that they didn't do intros yet. ;-; They should've done intros. Anyhoo, I really liked this chapter! I like ALL the chapters! They're all wonderful! Bravo! *claps* Oh, also, this is my favorite part (it made me laugh, and I love it!):

The sliding stops and my heels thud to the ground. “Told you I didn’t kill him.”

“Hen!” Conrad’s face appears, suspended over mine, flushed but otherwise unharmed. He winces at the sight of me.

“How do I look?” I croak.

“Like a panda, if I’m honest.”



I absolutely LOVE it! Keep up the great work! Can't wait for the next chapteeeeer! :smt003

Zoom says...

Thanks Lib! Definitely need some introductions. I'll think of a way to do that which is in line with her character. Glad you see some potential with the woman :)

Liberty says...

I love how everyone calls her 'the woman'. Lol. And, your welcome!

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288 Reviews

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Fri May 10, 2019 1:41 am
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Dossereana wrote a review...

Hi @Zoom I am here to do a review on your chapter here. So lets get strait into it shell we, so I just read the other chapter so I do no very well of what happened witch that chapter was really good.

What Lines I liked most

If I made a list of what I want to see when I regain consciousness, somewhere near the bottom of that list would be the head of a rabbit, the arms of a monkey, and the wings of a bat.

I love how you started this chapter of, I think that this line is really nicely put to gather as most of your lines are,

“Well then take it from me. You don’t set things right with Kit.

These are some really funny names but at the same time cool, I am loving were this chapter is going right now.

And then it’ll be a matter of time before Kitsune learns what Conrad is.”

Oh this is so interesting, also grate work with how your kind of putting some description and stuff in between there talking.

Little things

I lead my brother into the unknown, all the while pushing against the blockade in my brain, the wall of hopelessness, urging some kind of plan to make it over and into the realm of possibility.

So I feel like this needs a full stop some were it is one of thoughts lines that seams really long with out it, so that is all that I think mite need changing with this line.

What I like most about the chapter

Your description is always good in every chapter, I feel like your description is great. there are really lots of good things about your chapters.

Notes for the chapters

Description: Great I give this a tick ✔

Sound: Great I give this a tick ✔

Smell: I think this needs work but it is very good so I give it an in between :smt117

Touch: This needs some work, :smt024

So that is all that I can say about this chapter. If I was being to harsh or mean or something that is not very nice, then I am really sorry will you pleas forgive me. So keep up the great work I look forward to the next chapter. :D

@EagleFly Out To Seek And Kill

Zoom says...

Thanks again for the help Eagle. I'm glad someone is looking out for the senses. I always forget something and you're right, I never really use textures enough in my scenes. I'll make a note to improve that in the next chapters. That chicken emote is hilarious :')


Dossereana says...

Lol I am very happy that I could help, I love your chapters. :D

Hearing these stories makes me realize that I never did anything with my childhood.
— The Internet