Warnings: n/a; spoilers for latest ancestors.
Characters: The Dolorosa, the Sufferer, the Disciple.
Notes: A few scraps. I'm so out of practice ;A;
7. all my life I've been a stranger to myself.
The Dolorosa had seen grubs die. There were many ways for the seeds of the new generation to expire, not the least of them grubs crushed under the weight of their own litter-siblings, as the weakest of them fought for relief from the crushing pressure exerted by the bodies of their brothers and sisters, and the strongest of them fought for the privilege of the surface, air, lack of pain, dim cavern light, scrambling for the caverns that held the ordeals that would eliminate the throngs further before they were chosen by lusii, ascended to the surface.
Was it that he was alone that made him different? Was it the incredible richness of his color, the pinprick legs wavering feebly in the hot air? The simply unusual aspect of the crater, the grub landed safe there, the steam still rising from the edges. She had been lucky in her timing.
Either way, to her surprise, she found she could not leave him.
8. the celebrated strangeness of another.
Like had never raised like on Alternia. A troll had never reared a troll. But without a lusus it would be impossible for the soft-bodied, undeveloped grub to survive.
She did not find handling him to be so repelling. The Dolorosa was academic in her interest. His body was small and soft and hot, his eyes still underdeveloped, his bite had no strength behind it as he chewed and mumbled at her fingers.
Death could come so easily for young trolls. Theirs was a hard world, not fit for fragile things.
But she had already committed herself to treason when she stepped onto the charred earth and took a careful path to reach him, the pitiful little creature squirming on his back, bright against the barren earth. Given five minutes, something would have swept down from the skies and eaten him wholesale. It was that helplessness that drew her, perhaps. He was pitiful.
The Dolorosa was always poised. She'd known from when she touched him that she would not abandon him where he squirmed on the surface, and guessed then too what the future trials might be – one adult troll raising one newborn, hidden, illicit, on the surface. Still. She chose them.
9. following the rise and fall of another land.
A young troll would need a cave. The Dolorosa was not uncomfortable under Alternia's sun, but a grub would be.
She found one suitable, and unoccupied. The grub, squirming and falling towards adulthood, never called her “mother.” Of course, trolls had no word for that office. He called her Dolorosa when he could form the word. She realized he would need a name. That it was her duty to bestow it.
15. your heart is made of steel
There were, of course, other trolls harvesting and hunting the hills and the cavernous lands. Normal trolls, with lusii, being raised in the normal fashion.
She gave up separating the girl troll from him at the swipe of a sharp-nailed hand; more like a paw, nearly, with stubby fingers. They were not doing each other any harm, remarkably. Her child did not know what was happening either; his eyes were wide and wild, the feral troll's likewise, clinging to him and fondling him. The girltroll's hair was a tangled thatch. Perhaps she was frightened of the fire at the front of the cave; the Dolorosa moved back towards it, stirred the simmering, thin broth, pale rootlets showing and then falling out of view.
“Come, child, aren't you hungry?” She had little way with children, little knowledge of how to warm her voice convincingly, but no troll did.
21. two solitudes come nearer, recognize and protect and comfort each other.
The girlchild became a good friend, anyway. Her lusus, with its tattered ears and spiky whiskers and long brushed tail, disapproved; the Dolorosa was not sure she approved herself. But it seemed suitable eventually that her charge should have a playmate. And with making a new acquaintance, fresh meat was introduced into their diet. The strange lusus and the little girl were adapt hunters, both.
The Dolorosa had never been required to prepare meat before; she did not know what to make of it, dark and ruddy, tasting of smoke, marbled with fat.
31. floating away in every direction.
The Disciple was one thing. The love that transcended quadrants made it into all the stories – the Disciple was writing the stories, after all. She had loved him in a way no one had any idea how to talk about.
There was never a word for quite how the Dolorosa had felt about him, either.