In the Darkness is the Light: Chapter 8

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Of Gods and Monsters

“This time I saw another Adaption. It was a grown man, he was kinda handsome if a bit short, but he turned out really cute. Though he freaked out so much that I felt bad he had been transformed, he wasn’t at all like the younger girl. I am starting to think not everyone who was chosen to be an Umbra Girl, wanted to be one.”

There were no words to describe how horrified Cherry was. He could feel each of her fingers digging into his throat. With each squeeze and ounce of pressure he lost hope. Thankfully, Dragon and Dag were there to save him, he just didn’t know how.

“What the fuck are you doing, Lightning Dust? He’s just a kid!” Dragon roared and stepped closer to her.

“You don’t want to do this, Lightning Dust! If him being a child isn’t enough, think of what Raftilia will do if you do this!” Dag warned. “Put Cherry down!”

“I don’t care, I’d rather us all be purified than be saved by a fucking man.” Cherry’s breathing grew strained. Was he really just going to let this happen? Was his declaration to improve himself just a farce? As he remembered the fight with Allightstar, and Bunberry’s bloodied body laying inside the infirmary, he felt his fist moving. He swung and it connected to her face. He didn’t stop there, he kicked and clawed at her and did everything he could to stop her.

That gave Dragon his opportunity, and he shoulder slammed towards Lightning Dust while Dag delivered a quick roundhouse kick. Cherry was sure they would save him, and closed his eyes waiting for their triumph. Instead he was sorely disappointed as he felt his body collide with the wall. He felt a wave of intense pain and heard an audible crack. As he began to scream, Dragon and Dag turned their attention to him.

“Cherry, no! Lightning Dust, you BITCH!” For the first time, Dragon had called out his name, his actual name. He smiled, then frowned as he felt something warm and metallic dribble out of his mouth. His vision started to fade as he saw blurs engaging in battle, Dragon and Dag were surely defending him but he couldn’t see it that well.

Whether it was delirium or his own impending death, suddenly his life was beginning to flash before his eyes. He started to relive important events that had happened in his life in reverse. He saw Allightstar attack Bunberry and the horrible injuries she incurred. He saw his destructive laser attack on Dragon after he had goaded him. He saw himself strapped to that table and later getting Adapted. Then he found himself back at the Orphanage, as his friends were purified in front of him. He saw the Head of the Orphanage, who always seemed to have it out for him. His short blonde hair, his pale skin, his cruel green eyes. He was never physically abused, but what he did to him might have been considered worse, telling him he was useless, worthless, and a pathetic excuse of a man. He saw the first time he’d tried on a dress. He had been so happy that the girl, Melanie, had let him try it. Then he saw himself playing with it, spinning around without a care in the world, until he found himself face to face with the Head of the Orphanage. He blamed Melanie for making Cherry a “faggot” and a “failure of a man.” Then, with a strong grip, he dragged her away. She screamed and cried, but eventually The sound of the outside door cut her off.” Cherry never saw her again. He was told she was taken to another orphanage, and that it was his fault this happened to her. Cherry didn’t know why he focused so much on him, but not the other boys, but he vowed to never wear another feminine article of clothing again. How had he forgotten that?

Before his memories could pull him back further, he awoke in his mindscape, the same one that he’d talked to his staff in. His staff was nowhere to be seen, however. Instead there was just an endless expanse of void. He wandered within this emptiness, unsure of how much time was passing—was it an instant or an eternity?—until he saw a bright flash of light.” He instinctively went to cover his eyes with his arm, but discovered that, despite its brightness, the light wasn’t blinding at all. Instead he saw a large locked door in the middle of it. Nearby, his staff materialized, and turned towards him.

“Cherry, you don’t want to go in there. You aren’t ready!” The staff warned.

“Why not? What’s in there?” he questioned.

As if to answer him, above the door words wrote themselves into existence, reading “What was lost,” in the same energy the Luminescents are made out of.

“I’m going to die, aren’t I? Why can’t I know what’s in there?” It was his mind, so shouldn’t he get to see what he wanted?

“You might not die. You’re hurt really bad, it’s true, but you aren’t dead yet. So maybe…”

“Staff… let me in. Now!” Cherry commanded.

However the staff was insistent. “F-fine, it was going to come out sooner or later. Just, Cherry, what you find in there, please, don’t misunderstand.” With that last cryptic message, his staff transformed into a key, then flew into his hands. With a deep breath, he shoved it into the lock. A bright flash of light exploded from the door as it burst open, revealing even more blinding light within. Cherry hesitated at the threshold, wondering why this door was supposed to be such a big deal, before tendrils of light reached out from within, grabbing and dragging him through the doorway. He fought and scraped and clawed by instinct, already regretting ignoring his staff’s warnings. More of the tendrils wrapped around his arms, legs, and mouth, finally pulling him upward and yanking him fully inside. His consciousness faded as the light overtook him.

He woke up and felt something was off. Instead of his normal self, he was now seven, almost eight years old. He felt a harsh tug as he looked up to see the Head of the Orphanage pulling him towards a mysterious woman. She had pink hair, pink eyes, and brown skin just like his own. It was impossible to tell her actual height as everyone looked like giants to him, but she was quite thin and she also somehow felt familiar to him despite him never seeing her before.

“As requested, here he is.” Even in his dreamscape hearing the Head of the Orphanage’s voice made him visibly shake.

“Good job, Benjamin, he looks well fed and healthy. Though, I have one more command for you, make sure he grows up into a fine and proper young man.” Her voice sounded almost ethereal. He wasn’t sure if he was hallucinating because of how he was dying, or if he simply misremembered, but her voice was impossible, maybe even inhuman. Despite this, Benjamin—as she called him—nodded and stayed still. Young Cherry hadn’t realized it, but the current Cherry noticed something off about his behavior. It was almost trance-like. “You can leave now.”

Benjamin walked away, and Cherry was left with this strange yet familiar woman. She picked him up and held him in her arms and he felt safe.

“Oh Cherry, I’m so sorry. I want you to know I had to do this to protect you. I didn’t do this to hurt you or because I didn’t love you.” Her words immediately made him freeze. Was she his…? “I know you won’t remember this right now, but when you do remember, find me. The Luminescent are the key.” With that he felt himself thrown out of the door, and back in his mindspace. His staff staring at him, back to it’s normal self.

“Was that my mo—” before he could finish he felt the mindscape fade.

He gasped heavily as he woke up. He was barely breathing, his body was badly hurt, but he was still alive. For whatever last few seconds it would be, as he saw Lightning Dust about to smash his head in with a hammer blow. He looked to the sides of the hallway, and saw Dragon and Dag looking exhausted. What had happened while he was passed out? How long had he been unconscious?

“Guess your time is up, goodbye, Cherry Sparkles.” Lightning Dust moved to finish him, the world seemed to slow down as she got closer towards him. He imagined Bunberry jumping in and saving him again, which was ludicrous because she was in intensive care, but right now he needed someone to save him. She didn’t, and the hammer blow closed the space more. He closed his eyes, accepting the inevitable.

“Now, now, Lightning Dust, that’s no way to treat a new friend, mew.” A girl’s voice said. Her voice was soft as ice cream, melodious and nearly gave him diabetes with how sweet it was. Also she didn’t even make a cat noise, she just pronounced the word “mew.” He found that oddly cute.

“Oh fuck, it’s the goddamn cat!” Lightning Dust exclaimed, as she halted her attack. Cherry struggled on the ground, glad to be alive, and suddenly he found himself smiling? He wasn’t sure why, he had almost just died, but still he started to feel happy, almost jovial?

“Ugh, I’ve never been so happy to see that fudging cupcake.” Dragon said uncharacteristically. He wasn’t swearing. Dragon always swore. It baffled Cherry, though his feeling of happiness overruled his confusion.

“Why, you must be Cherry Sparkles. I’m so glad to meet you. I’m Princess Kittenberry, mew.” The girl was wearing a floral pink dress, with pink mary janes and white knee socks. She had light brown skin, much lighter than his. She had red eyes, and bright pink hair held back by a floral headband. Seeing her made him so happy, he seemed to forget his injuries while in her presence. Not only that but he felt a feeling of attraction. She was sooo cute and her smile seemed infectious as he felt his own growing even larger.

“I’m getting the fudge out of here. Keep away from me, you ice cream cake!” Lightning Dust hurried away with a smile on her face. Everyone seemed to have a smile on their face, it creeped Cherry out a little.

“Princess Kittenberry, thank you so much. We don’t know what she would have done.” Dag’s blissful tone echoed Cherry’s mood.

“I’d never let such a cute, defenseless child be harmed, meow.” She put her arms around Cherry gently. Even though normally he’d be apprehensive, he felt good in her arms. She was cute, she smelled like cherries and cream, and she looked young, maybe even as young as him.

“Th-Thank you Miss Princess Kittenberry.”

“It’ll be okay, Cherry Sparkles. I know this world is mean and cruel, but there are many like us that want to instead spread joy and love, mew.” She smiled at him and patted his head. He felt himself blush, he wanted her to do it again. “Oh, before I forget. She/her pronouns for me, I’m 1000% girl, mew!” She held out her hand and made a peace sign with a wink. It was as if she was cuteness made flesh.

“Oh uhh, okay, I’m uhh…” before he could answer he coughed violently.

“We need to get him to miss Lamp Flower right away! Come on Mister Dragon, let’s go, mew.”

“Dag, go get Lamp Flower, we can’t move him, he looks badly beat up, I also think I heard a bone break earlier.” Dragon commanded, and Dag took off. “Cherry, stay with me, don’t close your eyes, fight it. You can beat this.”

He wanted to listen to Dragon’s words, he wanted to fight. He also wanted to sleep, his desire to give into the darkness and fade away. That feeling faded as he felt a kiss on his forehead. He looked up and there was Princess Kittenberry. She stroked his head, and gave him a few more forehead kisses. He blushed again, despite coughing up some blood.

“You’re going to be okay, Cherry. You’re going to be okay.” She assured him, and he felt like she was telling the truth.

Dag returned with not only Lamp Flower, but also Raftilia. Lamp Flower immediately took stock of the situation. “What the hell happened to Cherry? Why is she in such bad shape?” Lamp Flower was horrified, he could see it on her face as he blinked. Did she call him “she”

Raftilia looked even more worried. “My precious Cherry Sparkles! Lamp Flower, you must save her, at all costs!” Raftilia commanded. Lamp Flower nodded, then began to do a strange dance.

“The light pierces flesh and bone, it seeks to crush our hopes and dreams. No matter the problem I can cure all that ails. For I am a doctor and I’ll save you all!” With “the light pierces flesh and bone,” she crossed her arms in front of her. Then with “it seeks to crush our hopes,” she bowed her head in sadness. “Unfortunately for it I can cure all that ails,” she stepped forward with her right leg then swung her right hand outward. Finally with “For I am a doctor and I’ll save you all!” she rotated her right arm under in front of her, then rotated her left arm above her right, as if holding an invisible large spherical object.

The darkness covered her in a large cocoon as it did with all the others. Then she underwent a transformation, her head became more like a sheep’s head, with sheep ears, and fur, along with a sheep-like face. She gained cloven hooves for hands, and sheep legs. She looked like she was a sheep shaped like a human, with her same beautiful Black skin tone, added with blue fleece and her same yellow eyes. Flowers with Lamp petals spun around her rapidly, rising from the bottom to the top. Her clothes vanished and she was given a new outfit. Her shoes turned to brown flats, with yellow thigh high socks. A short fluffy yellow dress poofed onto her. It had a single large lamp flower embroidered on the front. It had three tiers divided by brown lace that reached just above her thighs. A long white doctor’s coat with a lamp flower nestled itself into its side pocket. Then a stethoscope with a lamp flower that replaced the stem and bell settled around her neck. Her hair was in pigtails with two flowers with lamp petals holding it tight. Then inside her hands, appeared a pure black crystal ball. It would have looked beautiful, had it not had a swirling dark vortex inside that scared Cherry. Despite that, adding the doctor theme to her outfit, also with the frilly dress was a weird combination, but Cherry liked it.

She wasted no time, she looked at Cherry, and pointed it at him. “Lily Soothing Mending!” After her words, lamp flowers appeared, and started shining heating rays on him. He felt uncomfortable but he noticed he started feeling better. His bruises were fading, that crack he felt earlier suddenly didn’t put him in agonizing pain anymore. His throat felt better, and he could breathe easily. After it finished, he felt amazing. Thinking he was fine, he tried to stand up but found himself falling back down. Clearly he wasn’t as fully healed as he thought.

“I saw a crack in her ribs, I’ve mended it for the time being. She’s okay for now, she’s stable. I’ll need to keep her under my care for a while, though.” Before he could react to her calling him ‘her,’ he looked over and saw Raftilia’s eyes made of pure rage.

“Who did this to her? Who did this to my Cherry?! You are not supposed to be this rough with our newer recruits, Dragon!” Raftilia was furious. It seemed that whatever was making them smile and feel happy wasn’t able to affect Raftilia. She was a Goddess, after all, so it did make sense.

“It wasn’t me, it was Lightning Dust. She tried to kill the kid. We tried to stop her, but you know how fast she is.” Dragon admitted. “I’m sorry, I should have been better. I’m only glad Princess Kittenberry arrived to stop her.”

“She… WHAT?!” Raftilia screamed in anger. Raftilia stomped over to the intercom. “Lightning Dust, you are required in the Infirmary. This is not a request, this is a demand.”

Within moments, Lightning Dust appeared. “What is it, boss?”

“What have you done? You tried to remove our only chance to save this world. What would possess you to do such a thing?” Raftilia asked angrily.

“You expect me to put my faith in an Adaption when you have plenty of real girls who have incredible power and probably could easily do the job you think this little boy can do.” Lightning Dust remarked.

“I do not understand your aversion to your sisters in battle. It doesn’t matter what they were born, or who they were before. What matters is we are trying to fight and win this war.” Raftilia clenched her paw into a fist and raised it. “You are all Umbra Girls here, Prin—Dragon as she prefers, Dagger Flower, Lamp Flower, you, and Cherry Sparkles. You’re too valuable to lose, but I can’t permit you to murder members of our own ranks. I’ll need some time to consider what to do. In the meantime, you are off duty until I decide your punishment. Get some time with Fluffy Ruby to ruminate on your misdeeds.”

“What? You can’t do that! You need me!” Despite her frustration she continued to smile. That was probably what unsettled Cherry the most. This entire time everyone was still smiling, except Raftilia.

“Speaking of, Lightning Dust, where is Acorn Flower? My birthday is tomorrow, and I wanted to invite her. I’m turning Seventeen, I’m so excited! Last I saw, she went with you on your latest mission. Did you see where she went when you got back, mew?” Princess Kittenberry asked.

Lightning Dust’s smile became a cocky grin. “She didn’t make it. We ran into a royal. She wasn’t fast enough. I was.”

Immediately the eyes of Princess Kittenberry grew wide, then tears started to form in them. She started to cry, and suddenly Cherry felt himself starting to cry too. He felt as if he had just heard someone extremely close to him had died, like how he felt when he saw Bunberry’s broken body in the infirmary. He didn’t even know this girl, why was he feeling like this? What was even more strange was how everyone around him seemed just as upset. He started to think whatever feeling Princess Kittenberry was feeling, she’d somehow spread to everyone else.

“N-No, that’s not possible! She’d never fall to a Royal, never ever! Acorn Flower was my best friend, she’s… she can’t be. She can’t be dead, she can’t be!” Princess Kittenberry bawled which caused everyone else to bawl.

Despite bawling, Lightning Dust continued to emanate maliciousness. “Look, it’s not my fault some dumb Adaption was stupid enough to get himself killed. Adaptions just are inferior to us real girls.” It was difficult for her to get the words out between the sobs, but she made sure to pronounce each and every one.

The moment she said that, Princess Kittenberry’s mood turned to a mixture of sadness and rage. “You-You killed her. You left her to die, you you YOU MONSTER!” Princess Kittenberry screamed at the top of her lungs, grabbed onto her and angrily pounded on her, with incredibly weak arms unable to do any real damage. She settled back into sadness as she sank to the floor, crying into her hands.

“It’s not my fault! All you Adaptions are just too frail,” Lightning Dust wailed mournfully.

However, Cherry looked over, then saw Raftilia. Her entire aura emanated something beyond rage. She was showing an emotion stronger than anger, stronger than hate. She moved over to the intercom. “Calling all Umbra Girls, report to the Ceremony Room immediately. This is not a request.” Then she turned to Lightning Dust, and held out her paw. “You, stay there and wait.”

Lightning Dust tried to move, but found herself unable to. Just like what had previously happened with Dragon. “What are you doing? Be reasonable!”

“Be quiet!” At Raftilia’s order Lightning Dust looked unable to speak. It reminded Cherry of when Dragon wasn’t able to talk during his own Adaption Ceremony.

Princess Kittenberry couldn’t take it anymore, and ran away, despite the order. Raftilia didn’t stop her, even Cherry could tell she needed time to heal. The moment she left everyone’s attitude changed back to normal. It seemed his theory was right, whatever she was feeling, everyone around her felt it too.

“Oh, thank the Goddess, I can curse again.” Dragon said with a sigh of relief. Then with a snarl he turned to Lightning Dust. “You’re a piece of shit, you know that? You’re less than the slime on my shoe, you fucking asshole!”

Raftilia straightened up, then took a deep breath. “Follow me.” Cherry watched as Lightning Dust moved like a puppet as Raftilia marched towards the Ceremony room. She beckoned the rest of them, and Cherry and the others followed. Cherry struggled to walk, so Dragon picked him up in his arms bridal style. Cherry blushed at that, but didn’t struggle. His body was stable, but still it hurt to move too much. He felt so frail, so weak, but this time he didn’t care. He just relaxed into the safety of Dragon’s arms.

They followed Raftilia, until she went to the middle of the ceremony room, with all the current Umbra Girls present, minus Bunberry and Princess Kittenberry. “I’ve called you here today, to show you an important lesson.” Raftiila said, holding her paws behind her back and pacing. “There is one among you, who has committed heinous crimes. Her name is Lightning Dust.”

Lightning Dust seemed unable to speak as the crowd audibly gasped, and broke into murmurs.

“Five. Five Umbra Girls were put in her care, and none of them returned. At first I thought it was simply a tragic coincidence, but now I know the horrible truth. Lightning Dust let them die, she effectively got them purified or killed. Our latest to fall is Acorn Flower. Not only that but she attempted to murder Cherry Sparkles within these very halls. What say you, Lightning Dust? Why would you do this?”

Lightning Dust’s mouth moved again. “Guess the cat is out of the bag, but what does it fucking matter? They weren’t even that powerful anyway.” Her words horrified Cherry. Was that how she saw the world? The weak fall, and the strong survive? It reminded him of the Head of the Orphanage “They were just a hindrance, so yeah, I let them get purified. Some were killed, but that’s the fate men deserve. They’ve oppressed us for millenia. Men don’t belong in women’s spaces, especially in something as serious as being an Umbra Girl.”

The other Umbra Girls didn’t seem to be able to stay silent.

“Y-You’re a Demon!”

“I don’t know, she has a point, but killing them? That’s going too far.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?! You murderer!”

“Acorn Flower was so sweet and nice to everyone. She was the kindest soul ever. She was more of a woman than you’ll ever be, you bitch!”

“Please, calm down, I know you are angry, I am too, but I promise you. Proper sentencing will be handed out.” Raftilia promised. “Lightning Dust, kneel.”

Lightning Dust did as she commanded, then Raftilia walked over to her, and plunged her paw in her chest, and pulled out her Night Crystal. “This is your Night Crystal. Normally, I’d freeze it until you needed it again. This time, however, I don’t feel that’s an appropriate solution.” Suddenly dark lightning shot out from Raftilia’s paw and latched onto the Night Crystal. Cherry watched as it then pierced into it, and started pulsating, as if it was sucking energy from it.

“What are you doing?! You’ll kill us all! She’ll explode!” one of the girls yelled. A drop of blood fell from Raftilia’s nose. Cherry glanced around. Had anyone else noticed that?

“Normally you’d be right, however, not when I do… this.” Raftilia’s entire body erupted with dark lightning, as it violently ripped energy from the Night Crystal until it looked completely inert. More blood came from her nose as finally the crystal fell still. She then held it in front of Lightning Dust’s face and took a deep breath. “This is your Night Crystal.” With a single paw, she crushed it into dust. “I have permanently removed your magick. You are no longer fit to be an Umbra Girl. From now on you are a normal human.” Lightning Dust’s hair returned to a neutral brown, and her eyes were now green. Raftilia wasn’t kidding. Though her age stayed the same, as did her body. Cherry expected her to change back into whatever old hag she really was, but she didn’t. It seemed this process wouldn’t restore Cherry’s body. He felt a tinge of disappointment.

“N-No! You can’t! You can’t take my powers away from me! Plea—”

Before she could plead more, a dark portal opened up. Raftilia grabbed her by the arm, then flung her into it. Lightning Dust screamed as she was exiled from the Umbra Girls forever. Cherry was frightened by the display, but he felt justice was served, at least a little. She deserved worse, in his mind, but this would suffice.

However, the other Umbra Girls erupted into panic.

“Yo-You can do that?!”

“Holy fuck what did you just do?!”

“What she did was awful, but wasn’t that a bit extreme?”

“Calm down, I sent her to a heavily populated human settlement. With her knowledge of the Luminescent, she’ll be fine, possibly. I couldn’t care less.” Cherry had never seen Raftilia act so cold. Then he noticed her limp a little, and took a deep breath. “I’m going to my office. If any of you do anything like this again, you will suffer a similar fate. I cannot have an Umbra Girl that seeks to sabotage what we are doing here. We have to work together to fix this world, or we will all die or worse.”

With those last words, Raftilia limped through the crowd, down the hallway, with more blood coming from her nose. Whatever she had done, it didn’t seem to be something that came without consequences. While the other Umbra Girls dispersed, Dragon and Dagger Flower stayed, still silent. Then he heard the sound of wood clunking behind him.

“Hello, Cherry, I’m back.”

He turned to see Bunberry walking with crutches and a smirk on her face. His own face lit up with a real smile this time. She hobbled over to him, and with permission from Dragon, held him in her arms. He closed his eyes, as he felt a hand running through his hair, and a scratching that caused his body to settle down. At that moment, all fears and worries of this day vanished and all he could feel was five simple words as they escaped his lips.

“I’m so glad you’re okay.”

I hope you all enjoyed that! I have a special announcement! I've been chosen for a special collab, so I'm going to be working on that before I come back to finish chapter 9. I hope you enjoy what's to come, thank you all from the bottom of my heart ♥

Thank you as always to the lovely msblackandblue who without I"d never have come this far

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Comments

Yeah

Lightning Dust the murderer is gone, I hope that wasn't all you focused on though. There was a lot this chapter that I hope ya'll caught hehehe ♥

I know who I am, I am me, and I like me ^^
Transgender, Gamer, Little, Princess, Therian and proud :D

Somebody

Podracer's picture

Somebody has a special, as yet unrealised, healing ability ;)

"Reach for the sun."