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...In the Grand Pits of Lurkarakonn...

From the beginning there was nothing but agony, and pain, and the physical sense of rupturing, the sense of tearing and splitting. Much like the contents of a sack would spill from its torn linen, the flesh began to breach, it paled in color, swelled, pulsed, and then burst, disgorging a multi-colored, sludge-like mess of organics, liquids, and digestive fluids.

Greens, tans, brows, and even some rivers and hairs of black to snake like tarry serpents through a terrible soup of disgusting amalgamation, the liquids and solutions thrashed against the edges of the earth, they drowned the grass, sunk pebbles and small rocks, and engulfed the stems of tall, onyx flowers.

In kinship with a flood of mere mortal water, the wrath of a storm or a lake, the horrid stew sloshed, swirled and spread like a puddle of blood, it glistened in green illumination and light, bubbled, snapped, flicked, and then grew still.

For a long while the spillage festered, and the diseased, mutated dirt began to lap it up, where it thinned, and membranes were left stranded in cool wastelands of soaking soil. Blisters boiled from the edges of plants unfortunate enough to be caught in the advance of the fluids, the air permeated with a rancid stench, and green trails of dancing smog rose like trees.

Sizzling, bubbling, snapping, the awful snapping. The sounds of pockets of filthy air meeting ruination and destruction, the filter of acid spreading its tendrils into the atmosphere, the obvious birth and rise of something malign, and horrible.

Yet, there was but a spark, here, an… abnormality, something askew and perhaps unrelated in its appearance, its nature, to the rest of the ministrations that had thus forth polluted the world with their risings.

There were no howls of felled beasts, nor the jostles and rants of the deranged, there was not even the buzz of a fly's wings or the caw of a carrion crow.

Nay, there was but the drift of wind and the caress of warmth, the building of green light, and the transition from oblivion into eternity. For as the liquids dried up, and the shredded membranes began to shrivel and shrink, the collective understanding of emergence, and of totality became known to all in observance.

Indeed, there had been eyes to behold the ugliness of the event, but they had not shrunken away from the display as the membranes of the incubation had, and they had not whittled to the outskirts of the exchange like the trails of acid had.

For such simplistic assumptions, this was denied, it was forthright, and to KluAndi, it was not only that, but it was birthright, and for this, she would never shame the future name of her child, or for herself.

Last night she had consecrated the day as Uniis, she had risen from tendril and shadow, and had stepped out to the Grand Pits of Lurkarakonn with pride, and relish. JaNiir had come with her as he had promised, against the velocity of his narrow mind, and to the heartfelt gesture of his Uliikoo, he had witnessed two births this day.

One birth was of his Uniis, for she no longer was of such station, for she was now mothered, and that made her Uliikoo- Blessed under the Fertile Shade –and that simultaneously made he himself Anaakii, no longer Ana.

The new age had taken many months to form, and to ball together off of the yolk of change, and of prophecy. For many hours the Tenders did not believe that the process had succeeded, and besides that, they ranted terribly about the rebuttal of tradition, and for this, JaNiir had been forced to attend his own Unn with a rabid temper to draw his teeth from his chops.

If there was one certainty among the madness that was JaNiir's head, it was his rage, for it had been the thing to irrevocably smite KluAndi's heart many years ago. She had promised her great Chieftain, her father, to bear the name of their Collective, and to emblazon it upon the surface of Worn, and in this regard she… did not know, if she had succeeded, or if she had failed.

Whatever her father would have said to her this day, it would have mattered naught, for nothing could be traced back or changed. KluAndi had sworn to her family oaths, and yet she had bore the child of an Ancrahki of her Collective, a far shot from the humble beginnings of Tending.

The Tenders had been the things to remind her dutifully of what everyone else in the world viewed as shortcomings, and their spites had rung highly until JaNiir had snarled at them and scattered them like vermin.

In the wake of her significant other's immaculate lack of sociality and skill of clearing a chamber, there had been no one, to witness the giving of life. The incubation pod had wallowed, breached, and it had finally exploded and vomited forth the result of years of effort, and of terror, and destruction.

So much dread and fear for such a shining star in the blackest of voids, KluAndi had been gifted something before her, she had been gifted a voice with which songs worthy of the Courts propagated. KluAndi would later compose a song, one of love, and of devotion.

'-Given life with uncertainty, the morning rose and we saw nothing, fear engulfed us and sunk our hearts… But when the steam cleared, and the grass made walls before you, I saw Kahnu.'

-Both had strode forwards, their clawed heels breaching the humus of the incubation pod's contents, their glowing, golden eyes wild and scanning, jaws slacked and throats taught with dryness.

For, one must understand, that before the climax of beauty, there had been terror, terror of failure, and of yet more unceasing death.

"-Check everywhere." JaNiir's anxiousness hewn into his voice, his deep, gravelly voice, he barked at his queen, and swept a gathering of black plant fronds from his path with a swat of his claws, examining the ground ahead.

"-I will, and I am." KluAndi clenched her fangs, she was more delicate in her approach, she did not smash through the foliage and debris as the Ancrahki drone did, her hands had been forged under the art of nursing and Tending, if the ball of life was to be found, she needed to reach it first.

"Where is it?" JaNiir sneered, he ripped a black plant from the earth and snarled at the wrought, tiny crater it created. "-Where is it?!"

" Be careful!" KluAndi cried, tearing herself from her own search, she braved much by gripping JaNiir's metallic flank, she dug her claws into his scaly flesh, focusing his rage, for where his rage went, all of JaNiir went.

There was not a hope for her to harm or even inconvenience the mighty warlord, but her touch was a crux of the beast, for JaNiir had never allowed another soul of the Collective to touch him before, never before KluAndi.

Her defiance had made him love her, and nowadays, in the souring elongation of their union, it made him detest her, as he had come to understand of everything about her. Her elegance, her beauty, her voice, JaNiir felt they were treasures he could never truly claim, and for that he coveted his malice.

Though it remained suppressed, even for many years after the event today, KluAndi still remained oblivious, deliciously so, and, perhaps even JaNiir had managed to fool himself in those days, not that any of it mattered any longer.

He glared at her with his golden eyes, his jaws set, and clenched with effort, he locked his vision with that of his other's, appreciating the queen's narrow face.

"…Right." The warlord huffed, softening. This was an art he would soon lose in due time.

"-The fronts mar you," She shook her head. "A miracle has happened, you'd risk it?"

"We don't know if anything has happened…" The drone blinked.

"Assume it has." She countered, slipping her fingers from him to stand quadruped again.

"…Assuming," He trailed, stalking past her flank. "-is dangerous."

That isn't the only thing… -she chose not to say this bit out loud.

Her eyes lingered on the Ancrahki's flank for the whole while it took him to skim around her in his search, he concentrated on a section of the spillage away from her, and KluAndi's defiance, and her own focus, blinded her to that fact.

She swept the blackgrass carefully with her talons, she nudged aside tendrils, patted bulges of wet earth.

Where could they have gone? She mentally panicked. Where? How is this-?

-KluAndi couldn't even finish her own sentence, even when she was just thinking it, for what she saw completely numbed her of thought, and of speech of any kind.

She at first did not quite grasp the depth of what she was seeing, for before her was what appeared to be nothing spectacular, nothing but another strain of debris from the incubation pod. There was a torn spread of green flesh, snaked with dead veins and dripping with acidic, yellow sludge, it lye in a ruined heap, where it flew and slapped away from the sack's violent, explosive death.

The shred of the pod steamed lightly, sprawled silently, and yet, shielded something, something that KluAndi could not see through the flesh, could not smell through the rotten stench of acid, and could not behold through touch.

KluAndi knew from the first moment that this creation, this extension of her own body, gifted spirit and granted individuality, she knew that this tiny other, that the whelp was hers, hers and no others, not even JaNiir's.

Tentatively, the matriarch trotted to the edge of the wanton, fleshy destruction, her metallic nostrils flared, testing the air unsuccessfully, she hung over the torn wad of meat, her gold eyes scanning it, flickering over it.

In this moment of trepidation, she almost walked by it all, and prevented the formation of the coming times.

But no.

She soon… heard something, something tiny, insignificant and small, it was…

-KluAndi leaned the side of her head closer, bowing on her front legs, she perked the apparatus of her hearing, and listened.

….Tiny, small… hisses.

No, not hisses, slips of air. It was.. they were… breaths.

Breathing. Tiny breaths for tiny lungs.

With a snort of surprise, she gripped the moist ruin of the strip of pod and slowly began to peel it from the grassy ground, the breathing under it hitched, and slowed as sludge crinkled and wetly parted from the earth.

Light from the green sources above flooded the miniscule place of shade, wafts of green smoke left the surface, and a last few strings of little bubbles were popping and dying against the soil in strains. Flat dirt, refuse from the pod, rising, acidic stench.

Bundled in the heart of it, where it had been sheltered from her by the thickness of the flesh of the pod, was a small, round, and onyx-colored bundle, a small life, coated in a slippery coat of black, leathery skin, devoid of talons, with a stumpy tail, all of it glistening from the touch of the pod's fluids.

A defined and sleek spine ran down the creature's back, it rose and fell periodically and in tune with the puffing and receding of a spherical belly and ribs, a reptilian head no bigger than the queen's palm rested, sideways, against the earth.

A pair of little eyes were shielded by black, translucent lids, and a set of little nostrils flared and twitched with rapid intakes and exhales. The creature was the most beautiful thing KluAndi had ever seen in her life, and she fell in love with it instantaneously.

"-JaNiir-!" She cried, slouching the slab of pod flesh away from the whelp, she never took her eyes off it as she called out. "-JaNiir-! I-I found him- or-or her, or…"

Brush rustled, heavy heels thudded the ground in a sprint directly behind her, the warm shoulder of the Ancrahki warlord skimmed by her flank, the prideful drone overflowing with awe as he leaned beside his queen, beholding everything.

"…By JaehnSuu…" He breathed. "…I-It worked…"

"I remind you," KluAndi smiled with her fanged chops, glancing at him. "-You're a father now."

"…C-Check it," JaNiir blinked anxiously, raising a claw and then retracting, as if terrified he'd harm the being now that they'd found it. "-See what it is."

KluAndi slowly grazed a palm to hover over the whelp, she shivered a calming breath, and lowered her hand until the claws tapped the wet, soft flesh, and her palm compressed to the pulsing, vulnerable, defenseless back.

The creature's breathing hitched again, a tiny sound, something akin to a raspy, pathetic whine inched from its toothless, stubby mouth, it made KluAndi's heart melt, and she brushed her claw gently down the whelp's body, earning a shiver, and a twitch of its four short, tiny legs.

"-Suuli, Suuli…" She cooed in her native tongue, supporting herself on her rear legs, she scooped her fingers under the youngling's little body, and proceeded to transition it from the ground to the waiting support of her right hand. "-Suuli ouun, maaki…"

The baby twitched, and its undeveloped legs curled to its wet chest and belly, its chin compressed nearly to its clavicle, and the stubby tail formed a- 'C' –shape, with the tip crusading for its naval.

Staring into its closed eyes, KluAndi retracted from the messy earth she had discovered it on, and caressed her child to her chest, leaning back, angling her shoulder for JaNiir to see.

"…By JaenhSuu…" –Was all the Ancrahki warlord could keep saying in his shock, his wonder. "…Look at this, KluAndi…"

"I'm holding it…." His queen laughed at him, doting on the glistening whelp, she wrapped an arm under it, and pinched its tiny tail between two of her claws. "…And I'm holding a…"

-Lower, lower, the tail was soon clear. KluAndi smiled and raised the baby up slightly as JaNiir peered closer with intrigue.

"…Female," He gasped. "-A baby girl!"

"-We have given the Collective an Uniis, a healthy Uniis." KluAndi boasted. "She is beautiful."

"-W-What do we call her?" JaNiir held onto his queen's arm, his fingers dawdling and petting the whelp behind its head. "-L-Look how small she is…"

"…I admit, Ana-no-more…" KluAndi gazed at her significant other. "…I have put thought into it."

"You've decided?" JaNiir blinked at her. "-Thank the Ancrahki-ways, I-I'm not a creative type, my Uliikoo…"

"-We should name her…" The matriarch smiled wider. "…Khanu."

"…A…" JaNiir seemed taken aback for a short while, he opened his chops, closed them, and then got out- "-A Black Star?"

"One to change everything, to stop those Ancrahki-ways…" KluAndi nodded. "-She will need to be prepared, and it's our duty to make sure she is."

"….Khanu," JaNiir tested it on his tongue. "…Khanu, my Khanu."

The whelp stirred in its mother's grip, its translucent eyelids quivered, and sluggishly rose for the first time, where it golden eyes shivered and narrowed in the glare of the green light above the pits. Khanu would not remember a thing about her painstaking birth, or the first years to follow, as her kind's memory is of kinship with the minds of humanity in such a right.

Yet, without her memory, the whelp saw her sire, her mother, and she remembered their faces eternally, even when youth rescinded, her world changed and she no longer wished to. The old times began to close, for after birth, there was evolution.

The Collective would forever change, as would all of Worn, for the One of the Black Star had been born, and it would become her destiny to solve the dilemma of all ages and times, and to brave the shadows of annihilation.

The world of Worn shivered under a cold breeze, mourning for the cataclysm to soon befall it. With beauty came an undertone of darkness, through the chorus of majesty, the corruption seethed and wormed under the earth.

Time became still, and then wound back to life for a new era.