Miko, her purple and indigo armor shimmering in the sunlight, rode across the land. Inside her swollen midsection, she felt the Snarl stirring about in subdued fashion.
“You’re being awfully quiet for a being of pure destruction and disorder,” Miko comment.
The Snarl chuckled. Beloved, when you’ve been imprisoned for as long as I have, you tend to learn patience. To my delight, learning patience has allowed me to come up with new ways to destroy…
Miko nodded. “Where are we going, then?”
I have one final test for you, Miko, the Snarl said.
Miko blinked, and gave her belly an irritated look. “A test?”
One final test. If you fail, then I will simply leave you and find a new host. I will be disappointed, for certain, as in you I see myself. If you succeed… Heh, then the destruction can truly begin.
Miko frowned. She felt a twinge of unease as she went down the road. It only occurred to her after she had traveled for an hour that she recognized this path.
“It can’t be… I haven’t been back here in years…” Miko said. She spurred Windstriker on, the now demonic horse thundering along the path. Moving at twice his normal speed, Windstriker dashed across the land, heading up into the mountains, the rocky terrain no barrier for the enchanted horse.
In short order, they arrived at the end of the path: Miko gasped, seeing the ancient columns of stone, the trees and blossoming plants surrounding this oasis in the harshness of the mountains.
“This… This is the temple where I was born… Where my life began, where I took my first levels in monk…” Miko whispered.
The Snarl chuckled. This is your final test, Miko. To see if you and I are meant to be together.
Miko stared in shock. Slivers of happy memories flitted through her thoughts, as she dismounted and headed into the temple.
She stepped into the courtyard of the monastery, finding no one there. “Hello?” she called out, “Is anyone around?”
Miko frowned. She ran a Listen check, hearing a pair of soft footsteps heading for the main courtyard. Reflexively, she whirled, reaching for her katana and wakizashi,
“Miko?” said a soft voice.
It took Miko a moment to recognize the voice. But when she did… “Mother?”
A cloaked figure emerged from the main temple. She removed her hood, revealing an aged face, one that Miko knew well.
“Mother? Milady Eyko?” Miko asked, her hands shaking.
The woman stared at Miko worriedly. “Miko? My little Miko? Is that you?”
An eternity of imprisonment has taught me patience, child. But I can sense you will make your decision soon. Until then, I will remain silent, the Snarl said to Miko.
Miko’s hands shook as Eyko slowly approached her. She managed to smile, bringing her hands together and bowing. “I… Yes, it is me, mother. I have been… through much… And as you can tell, I have changed somewhat…”
“So I see…” Eyko said, tears coming her eyes as she rushed over to hug her daughter. “Oh Twelve Gods be praised, it is good to see you again!”
A flash of anger jolted Miko at the mention of the Twelve Gods, but she managed to contain her fury for now, and hugged her mother gently, careful not to cut her with the blades on her armor. “It is… good to be seen again… I have been away for a long time.”
Eyko smiled warmly, kissing her daughter’s cheek. “I was so worried… When Azure City was conquered and turned into Gobbotopia, I was afraid I had lost you…”
“Gobbotopia?!” Miko said, visibly confused.
Eyko nodded sadly. “For the past four years, going on five now, Azure City has been under control over the bearer of the Red Mantle. The lich Xykon occasionally shows up there as well, but he mainly hunts the Order of the Stick, who travel from gate to gate, stopping him from taking them over.”
Miko scowled. “Well, at least I know where everyone I want to kill is…” she muttered.
“Hm?” Eyko asked.
“Nothing,” Miko said quickly, smiling.
Eyko chuckled. “We will have plenty of time to talk. And you can tell me who the father of my grandchildren is,” she said, patting Miko’s swollen middle as she led her inside.
Miko could almost hear the Snarl snickering as she struggled to find a way to explain this without giving herself away. She cursed former life, as she had taken no levels in Bluff or any sort of deception…