hatchling @maplem0th
hatchling

All the Weaverling knew was that Mother wouldn’t wake up, and nobody would tell her why.

Every time she tried to tell Midwife, she was just brushed off, told to busy herself and not think about it. Why wasn’t anybody else worried? She didn’t understand. This was their leader, her mother. She was important! She couldn’t just sleep all day, could she? She had to do...adult things! Mother said she’d tell her what she did when she was older, said she might have to do it someday. Or something like that. She hadn’t really been listening, there was a particularly interesting rock nearby when they’d had this conversation, in a quieter, more private part of Deepnest. Deepnest was so dark and a young Weaver’s eyes so sensitive, it stood out to her more than anything else. So bright and prett-

She stops herself from thinking about the rock, shaking her head to clear it. There are more important things to think about. Most importantly, how she can awaken Mother.

She stops herself from thinking about the rock, shaking her head to clear it. There are more important things to think about. Most importantly, how she can awaken Mother.

The child glances at a small hole in the cavern wall, just large enough for her to fit. Midwife is occupied by one of the hatchlings- she wouldn't see the determined look in the child’s eyes, catch onto the idea hatching within her mind. She came to a decision

If nobody else would help the child to awaken her, then she would have to do so herself.

The adults were talking to the shiny people- so bright when she tried to look it made her eyes sore. Especially the one with the pointed shell... They were all far too busy to watch her, saying words she didn’t understand in a tongue she barely recognised, something about dreams and a...she didn’t know the word. Sac-ree-fei-suh? Maybe when Mother wakes up she can ask her what it means. For now, she’ll have to work what happened herself...

Nobody would see a small form slipping away from her siblings, into the shadows outside of where the hatchlings and other children of Deepnest stayed. There were many other, tinier ones for Midwife to watch over (she didn’t know why, but she was growing much faster) and she was already proving to be a lithe little creature. Without being noticed, she manages to slip through the gap.

On the other side of the cavern wall, the child makes a muffled, startled noise as she flops onto the ground, making an audible click as her shell connects with rock. After a few moments, she picks herself back up again, dusting off her cloak.

She’s never travelled this far by herself… But she’ll do it for Mother! Miraculously, the path to where she saw Mother go to lie down when the shining ones came was free of threats. Still, there’s a trace of tension somewhere within her. There’s something that isn’t right, but she wouldn’t be able to articulate exactly what that feeling was. A general unease, spreading throughout her small body. Why was she so worried? Everything was going to be fine, she could wake up Mother then the uncomfortable feeling would go! Somewhat more confident, she continues, although that doubt still tugs at the edges of her confidence. She tries her best to ignore it.

After a short trek across Deepnest, the small weaver finds herself in Herrah’s bedchamber. She hasn’t moved at all since she left...

She’ll start slow, careful. A small nudge with small hands.

“Mother?”

She speaks in the soft, high-pitched chittering typical of young weaverlings, although she’s always had trouble pronouncing words in it.

Hmm, no response.

She tries again, a slightly more forceful nudge.

No response.

Hm.

Placing both of her hands (she’d grow the second pair after she moulted, her older siblings had told her) on Herrah’s shoulders, she attempts a mild shake, slightly frustrated by now.

“Mother, you can’t sleep all the time….” She clambers up the side of the bed, sitting on her mother’s chest with her legs crossed. From there, she shakes her again, as strongly as she can manage. Given that she’s Very Small, it’s not particularly effective. The Beast sleeps still, silent, unmoving beside the soft rise and fall of her chest.

“You need to wake up!”

The child huffs. Why won’t she wake up? It doesn’t make sense. She’s usually so attentive to the people of Deepnest. What could have gotten into her? Something’s wrong… No, it can’t be that bad She’s probably just tired, right? She works really hard, so it makes sense. That doesn’t mean she can sleep for so long, though...

If she keeps trying, she’ll wake up, definitely. She has to. Deepnest needs her. She needs her.

Time passes. The child perseveres.

As she nudges The Beast once again, she notices footsteps approaching the bedchamber, voices calling for her. What if they take her away from Mother before she wakes up? She has to hide! Where to go, where to go..? She manages to scramble behind one of the banners, tries to stay as still as possible, holds her breath. There are footsteps-armoured footsteps- and the child squints at the bright light.

“It is done, then?” 

The child does not recognise the voice, but she feels as if she’s heard it before. It feels almost ethereal. She fidgets with her cloak.

“Yes..”

That was Midwife’s voice! Maybe she’d explain what was happening? Or she could wake Mother up…

“I see. So the agreement has been fulfilled. I assume the child is still with you?”

“She is. Although the little one does appear to have ran astray…”

The child pauses. Were they talking about her?

“Why do you ask? Did you need her for anything?”

What would this stranger want with her?

The other voice scoffs. “Our agreement is complete. You have a child of noble blood, and the kingdom has a seal. I need no more with this land, besides its obedience.”

She’s more confused than anything at this point, stopping her listening to process. What did that even mean? She was a daughter of Herrah the Beast. Who was this person talking about her blood- how could he know her? 

When Mother woke up, she had a lot of questions to answer…

The room darkens again, as the shining one leaves. She peeks out, to see Midwife placing a hand on Herrah’s motionless face, somehow looking solemn despite the cheerful expression of her mask.

“Fair trade for sacrifice made…

Now, where have you wandered off to, pale gift?”

With those words, the child and the mother are alone once more.

When Midwife leaves, the little one silently flees her hiding place, returning to the bed to resume her attempts to awaken Mother, her movements, slowing, becoming sluggish. It can’t take much more to wake her, right? Right? What if- No, what was she thinking? Of course she’ll wake up soon! She has to!

She continues, even as her own eyes grow heavy. No, no, she cannot sleep until Mother is awake. How long has it been since she started trying now? It’s longer than she’s learned how to count to, at least.

“Y-you have to..”

She’s barely awake herself. Is this how Mother felt when she went to sleep and didn’t wake up all day? But she cannot. Not until Mother wakes up. Not until then. Not until-

When Midwife re-enters, she finds The Gendered Child still clinging to Herrah, quietly mumbling pleas for her to wake. As gently as possible, she attempts to pull the child into her arms. Her charge makes a startled squeak and clings tightly to the sleeping one, erupting into panicked, pleading protests. “No- I- I need to be here until she wakes up-” With more force and more cries, the Weaverling lets go, flopping into her caretaker’s arms. Until she’s taken from the room, her eyes never move from the one on the bed.

She never stops flailing, crying out demands to be put down please Mother needed her-

Even when set back down among her siblings, the child glances towards where she'd escaped to, looked from Midwife to where Mother was to Midwife again. She hums something soothing, soft, calming, yet the child’s anxiety stays, festers. Her voice was soft and lilting, yes, but it wasn’t Mother’s.

“You’ll understand with time, dear..” The caretaker strokes one of her hands against the child’s horn, and she untenses a tiny, tiny bit.

“But what about Mother-” Her voice is small, and slightly shaky.

1. hatchling 1495 0 0