"Last check; is everyone ready?"
Nathaniel looked up from his scrolls to the badger as he spoke. The grizzled warrior was clad in some of the best armor their shared money could buy, but it did little to hide his hulking physique; even less to hide the scar over his left eye. He'd never actually given them an answer to how he'd gotten it, and they'd stopped asking. Still, he had survived for over a decade as an adventurer, so it stood to reason he knew what he was doing.
"I was ready the last time you asked, Bartholomew." The badger's good eye snapped to the side, narrowing as he glared at the speaker.
Nathaniel followed his gaze, spotting what could be considered his 'contemporary' in the party. The strange, rat-like creature had joined up with them several weeks ago, having goals that aligned with their own quest just enough for her consider working with them. Not that it had been an easy partnership; most witches didn't really get along well with others, it was just part of the deal where they were concerned. Not helping matters were the tendency of those around her to get zapped by electricity from unknown sources.
Bartholomew had accused her of doing it on purpose more than once, but 'Shorty', as she called herself, had always denied it.
"Watch your tone, Witch. We allow you to stay, but our patience has limits."
"Peace, Bartholomew." Nathaniel glanced to the latest speaker, a Minotaur named Thesis who had joined them all some time ago. It continually amazed all of them that the hulking beast of a creature, while he carried a greatsword that would have made Bartholomew green with envy, was actually his kind's version of a cleric. Admittedly, one just as likely to sling thunder and lightning as he was healing spells, but a cleric nonetheless; and no one in their right mind adventured without a healer.
However, Thesis wasn't doing much in the way of either at the moment. He was kneeling with his sword stabbed into ground, eyes closed, and his hand clasping the hilt as he prayed to his deity of choice. "In-fighting will gain us nothing but headaches and mistrust when we need neither."
Bartholomew scowled at him, but was cut off before a comment could be made.
"He's right, and you know it, Bartholomew." The group's final member didn't even look up from sharpening their blades. "We're already going to be courting death just by doing this; I'd rather not have to fight the closest things I have to friends as well."
Bartholomew's scowl only deepened, a growl actually rising in his throat, but he didn't lash out. "Very well, Ven, but the point still stands. Are you ready?"
The cat just smirked, looking down the edge of one of his short swords. "Honestly? I don't think I am, but I'm as close as I'm going to get."
Bartholomew grumbled, then turned back to Thesis. "And you?"
"Momentarily," he responded. "I'll be ready once my meditations are complete."
The badger nodded, then finally set his gaze on Nathaniel. "And what of you, Wizard? Are your spells prepared?"
Nathaniel gulped, but nodded all the same. "I readied every high level spell I could find, and anything that looked like it could be useful."
"...and, the one we need."
Nathaniel nodded gravely. "I made sure it was the first one I prepared. It's good to go." He hesitated as Bartholomew nodded and started to turn away. "Are you sure about this?"
The badger glanced back toward the scrawny wolf. "You picked a bad time to start questioning my leadership, Wizard."
"That's not what I'm questioning, and you know it." Nathaniel rolled up the scroll and tucked it inside his robes. "I've actually studied what I can find about this creature, and have some idea what it's capable of. Wouldn't it be smarter to simply gather an army instead of having five people trying to deal enough damage to stop it?"
Bartholomew looked Nathaniel in the eye, then sighed as he dropped his gaze down, suddenly looking far more tired than the group was used to seeing him. "I won't deny it, the idea has crossed my mind more than once; especially now, when we're so close to the battle at hand. But there wasn't nearly enough time get a hold of nearly the numbers we would need, not without endangering the civilians near the beast.
"I don't like it any more than you do, Nathaniel; but this is simply the only option we have right now."
Shorty scoffed, letting her rat familiar scurry up her arm to rest on her shoulder. "So melodramatic. I don't know what you're all worried about; this thing's never had to deal with me, or my spells. Once it gets a taste, it'll turn tail and run."
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Thesis opened his eyes with a small smirk. "You would do well to remember as such, Shorty."
"Whatever, I know what I'm doing." She waved her hand dismissively at the Minotaur's warning. "So, we doing this or not?"
Bartholomew took a deep breath to calm himself from snapping at the strange rat-creature, and to settle his own nerves about the whole mess he was about to lead them into. "Yes," he finally said, "I suppose we are. Any last minute objections?"
Thesis shook his horned head, standing back up with a grunt and pulling his sword out with one tug of his massive hand. "I am centered, and my spells are prepared. I'm ready for the battle."
Ven took a few more moments to check his blades, then nodded and slid them into a matching pair of sheaths at his sides. "Drinks are on me if I don't get killed."
Shorty chuckled, stoking her familiar as she limbered up her fingers. "I'm going to hold you to that, kitty."
Nathaniel just sighed. "I still think this is a bad idea, but I'll do my part."
Bartholomew nodded, reaching back to ready his war-hammer. "Okay... here we go."
The party finally started walking, they had a bit of a journey to go before they got to where they needed to be, and very little time to get there.
Travel was never easy nor quick, even less-so when their destination wasn't located near anything in particular. Still, none of them were any strangers to marching on for hours, spending days to get to new towns just for supplies. A single day's march was nothing compared to some of the things they had done, especially when one factored in just how... empty, the area was.
Oh, there was a forest, which they were traversing with a long practiced care, and there were enough insects that they tried even Thesis's patience, but nothing more dangerous than a feral wolf (easily frightened off by the minotaur's bellow) accosted them as they moved through branch and bramble.
While normally, they would have welcomed such peace, they were becoming increasingly unnerved by how quiet everything had gotten. It left them with little to distract from the sense of impending doom weighing on their hearts.
"Nathaniel." Bartholomew finally broke the silence of the woods, hefting himself over a fallen tree. "Where did the scroll you found say this thing was buried?"
The wizard shooed away a fly as he thought back a few days. "Nearly eight leagues from what it called 'Castle Grayskull', by way of the setting sun. All the research I've done says that was the ruins we had to rest in the other night, and we've been heading west since we left them. We should be nearly there."
"No 'nearly' about it, puppy." Shorty, having gotten a good ways ahead of the group, called back to them. "We're here."
The others joined her one after another, stepping out into a clearing; while not unusual in and of itself, the massive hole spiraling into the earth most certainly was. It was massive, several hundred feet across and the black depths faded into invisibility long before it ever reached the bottom. The edges were jagged, with rocks jutting out and great gouges that hadn't been worn away by time.
"...yeah," Nathaniel said, pausing to peer over the edge with a gulp. "This is what the book spoke of; the tarrasque is buried in the depths of the earth here."
The forest seemed to grow still at the mention of the creature. The tarrasque was, according to a book they had stumbled upon in the ruined castle a few nights ago, the most powerful engine of destruction the world had ever known. Dragons were as flies to it; the gods themselves trembled in fear of such a creature being set loose upon the world, to the point most refused to even act against it. Armies were said to be tossed aside with a single sweep of it's hands, and no weapons forged by mortal or immortal weapons were truly deadly to it.
None could say where, when, how, or why such a creature was made, or to what ends it had been made, just that it existed. And that it was set to awaken any day now.
Nathaniel, for all his own intelligence, hadn't been able to recognize the dating system the old kingdom had used. As such, he was only able to give a vague idea of when the beast was set to break free of its magically induced slumber; the fact they hadn't heard of some massive rampages yet meant it was probably still asleep, but they couldn't keep relying on luck and hope for the best.
Bartholomew was right, there simply wasn't time to do anything else.
"So..." Ven peered over the edge of the gaping wound on the planet himself. "I don't see any stairs, so how are we getting down there?"
"Me." Nathaniel cracked his knuckles and turned to the group. "Had a feeling this would come in handy." He closed his eyes, reaching within him to the power all magically potent beings held within themselves, then spoke a single word in an arcane language. He felt the power flow through him, light gathering about his hands as other lights surrounded the other party members, including himself. He slumped a bit after the casting was complete, a hand going to his head. "Ohh... that was something."
Thesis raised an eyebrow. "You okay there, Nathaniel?"
The wizard waved off his concerns. "Yeah, yeah; I've just never cast Feather Fall on that many people at once." He managed to straighten himself up, walking to the edge of the pit once more. "Okay, I know the drill with these sorts of things. Wizard tests his spell first." And he jumped, putting as much distance between himself and the edge of the hole as he could. And, while he did fall, it was a far cry from the speed he should have plummeted at; the spell was holding, it seemed.
With a grin, he twisted himself around in the air, still drifting downward. "We're good! You can jump now too."
Bartholomew didn't hesitate, just hurling himself off the cliff face and starting his slowed descent into the dark depths.
Shorty, meanwhile, just turned to look at Ven and Thesis. "You ever wonder how you got to the point where jumping off a cliff was the sane thing to do?"
Thesis chuckled. "Many, many times, I assure you." The Minotaur charged off the cliff, joining his companions in their fall.
Ven just shrugged, a wild grin on his face. "What do I have to worry about? Cats always land on their feet, remember?"
Shorty just shook her head, letting her familiar scurry inside of her robes once more. "You guys are nuts."
"Yep, coming?" Ven took a running leap, flipping a few times in the air before he started his fall.
Shorty sighed, then shook her head. "Gods help me, I've gone native." The strange rat-creature closed her eyes and just ran right off the cliff edge, best to not give herself time to think about what she was doing.
Not like it would make it any easier to survive.
The fall was a lot longer than any of them had been expecting. Nathaniel actually had to recast the spell part-way down when they all started falling at a more natural speed, since they had been slow falling for nearly half an hour. However, Ven did eventually call out that he saw the ground approaching; and not a moment too soon at that; the second spell cut out when they were about ten feet above the ground, and Nathaniel was out of times he could cast it.
Still, they managed to land more or less smoothly. Bartholomew and Thesis landed with a pair of grunts, both of them strong enough to not stagger, and Ven had literally cat-like grace on his side, so he landed without making a sound. Nathaniel and Shorty, however, had neither of those on their side, and both landed somewhat awkwardly.
Still, none of them where hurt, that was the important part.
"Okay then." Shorty smoothed her robes, her rat familiar slipping out of the sleeve and up to her shoulder. "So, where is this damned thing?"
"You can't expect a book over five centuries old to be accurate to that level, Shorty." Nathaniel held up his hand and snapped his fingers. A ball of light appeared over his head, illuminating the general area. "It's somewhere in this pit, that's all I can say for sure."
Bartholomew took charge immediately. "Okay, spread out and see if you can find it." The badger opened a bag of holding strapped to his waist and pulled out a torch, with a strike of some flint off his his hammer, it was lit. "And please, no one touch anything that they can't identify. I don't want a repeat of that one temple from a few months back."
"I said I was sorry!" Shorty stomped her feet as she turned red with rage, and everyone was sure they smelled something like the air following a thunderstorm.
"Just get to work; we don't know how much longer we have!" Bartholomew turned from her and started off into the darkness.
Shorty, still angry, snapped her fingers like Nathaniel and summoned her own ball of light. Her grumbling was still audible as she walked away from the rest of them, making Ven shake his head.
"Those two are going to kill each other one of these days, am I the only one who realizes this?"
Thesis just shook his head. "If they come to blows, they'll stop before serious harm is done." The Minotaur held up one of his hands, a glowing ball of sparking electricity appearing in it. "Now then, I suppose we should actually start looking for the abomination." He grunted, shifting his own armor around and heading off in another direction.
Nathaniel and Ven both nodded to each other and headed separate ways as well; the former already having his light source and the latter not actually needing extra light to see in the dark. But both confident in the party's search abilities.
After all, how hard could it be to find something as massive as what they were looking for?
"So... anyone finding anything?"
Shorty's voice echoed throughout the cavern, causing everyone to pause in their search.
"I got nothing but a lot of stalagmites over here," Ven called out. "Good thing we didn't jump down on this side."
"More of the same for me." That was Thesis. "I think we might have gotten lucky with our entry point."
Bartholomew's snarl echoed through the cavern. "We're definitely in the right place, I found some pictures of something I don't recognize; that's got to be it."
"Maybe it decided to move." Shorty's sarcasm just made the other party members roll their eyes. "It's not like this is prime real estate here."
Bartholomew snarled even louder, preparing a retort, but was interrupted before he could start.
"Guys! You need to get over here, now!" Nathaniel's shout was slightly panicked, but it did cause the rest of them to start running in his general direction.
They stumbled a few times over uneven ground, and Shorty was pretty winded by the time they managed to catch up to him, but they did all reach him eventually... standing at what looked like the edge of a small cliff, with nothing else around.
Bartholomew was the first to ask the obvious question. "What is so important that you called us here, Wizard?"
Nathaniel gulped, fidgeting under the leader's intense glare. "W-well, I got to here and thought that it might be down there-" he nodded into the small canyon "-or something." He gulped again, but held up his hand to direct his magical lantern. "S-so I sent this down to check and... well..." Rather than finish, he simply directed the little glowing ball downward, passing several outcroppings before it finally stopped a short ways down. "Look... just look very carefully."
Bartholomew scowled, but looked at where the ball had stopped. It was a strange formation, rounded and slightly protruding from the area around it. It wasn't anything all that special in his mind, just something odd in a giant cavern; and he was about to start berating Nathaniel for wasting their time...
When the outcropping moved.
It was short, barely a second in length, but the strange formation moved, and he could see something smooth and slightly reflective under it as it did. Bartholomew blinked several times, unsure of what he'd just witnessed, when the answer hit him so hard he actually stumbled back.
"An eye?!" He gaped at nothing as his mind struggled to comprehend this new knowledge. "That's an eye down there?!"
Nathaniel nodded, the light floating back up. "We're not on the ground, Bartholomew. We're on the thing's back, and this is its head."
Bartholomew gulped, struggling to regain his balance as he tried to clear his head. "Okay... okay... we... we knew this was a possibility..."
"No we didn't!" Shorty stomped her foot again, and the party froze as they remembered where they were. However, the beast below them didn't stir, letting them relax a fraction of a bit, and to let Shorty continue. "We were prepared for, at most, a dragon. This thing is not a dragon; hell, I'm pretty sure it could swallow a dragon in one bite! We're not ready for this, Bartholomew! No matter how much you want to growl at me!"
The badger gritted his teeth so hard it seemed they likely to crack at any moment. "Shorty, what would you have us do? Leave and let this thing awaken to do gods know what before any form of resistance can be formed? Just pretend we never found out about this thing?"
Shorty looked down to the 'ground'. "We might live a bit longer..."
Bartholomew drew his hand back like he was going to strike her, but managed to hold himself back, growling so lowly it could almost be felt. "I will not run and hide with my tail between my legs like some sort of coward. If I am to die, if the world is to die, then I will die on my feet with a weapon in my hands. If you want to leave, then leave, I'm continuing with the plan."
Shorty scowled up at the larger fur, but didn't say anything for a long time. "...okay then, what is the plan?"
Bartholomew sighed through his snout, then looked down at the eye, just as it fluttered again. "Truth be told, we don't have time for something big and flashy; the damned thing looks like it's about to wake up any moment now."
"So..." Ven spoke up, a grin back on his face in spite of the situation. "Just wail on it with everything we've got?"
Bartholomew nodded. "More or less; it's the best we've got right now." He pulled his hammer out once more, grunting as he hefted it in his hands. "Everyone, if we don't survive this... you've made my life very interesting."
"I feel the love," Shorty deadpanned, but readied herself to start slinging spells.
Ven just smirked, drawing both his swords with great flourish and even twirling them a few times.
Electricity crackled around Thesis's hand while his other drew his massive greatsword. "For glory," he said with a smile of his own.
Nathaniel sighed, going over the other spells he'd prepared for the encounter. He had no illusions about surviving this encounter, he just hoped he actually did something instead of got in the way. "Lets just do this."
That was all the say-so Bartholomew needed; his hammer was lifted over his head, and swung down as everyone else backed away. The head of the hammer ignited as it fell, and seemed to explode at impact with the 'ground'. Bartholomew wasn't hurt, but the rest of the party felt the force of it ever several feet away, to say nothing of the wave of heat from the explosion itself.
Thesis bellowed out a Minotaur war cry, holding out his hand as a lightning bolt blasted out of it with a mighty thunderclap. The bolt hit what they could only assume was the creature's neck, given the size of it, and he was already readying another.
Ven moved as a blur, his twin blades slashing and swinging down and even at the spikes they now recognized as part of the creature's back. The blades, forged in adamantite, left an icy trail in their wake, occasionally even freezing part the 'ground' when they struck it.
Shorty's hands were both out, doing a bit more effective job of freezing large areas and actually chilling the air so much the party could actually see their breath.
However, Nathaniel just continued to look down off the edge of the creature's head, his eyes wide and his mouth surprisingly dry. He supposed he could have hurled flame, or frost, or even lightning, but... well...
"Nathaniel!" Bartholomew had hammered down another explosive blow, glaring at the wolf wizard. "Attack! Now!"
"...it isn't even waking up."
Shorty's concentration went, the chill dissipating in nearly an instant. "...what?"
"It isn't even feeling this!" Nathaniel gestured down, where the eye still only occasionally fluttered in the last vestiges of sleep. "None of what we're doing is even hurting it!"
"Don't give up yet!" Thesis raised his spell arm, calling massive bolts down into the hole, each striking with a deafening thunder. "We have to keep trying!"
"We've come way too far to just give up now!" Ven had taken to slashing the same spot on the thing's neck. "We'll get through eventu-"
The 'ground' suddenly shook, and Nathaniel saw the eye down below shoot open.
"I don't think 'eventually' is going to be soon enough."
It was almost like an earthquake, with how much the ground shook and shifted. The massive creature's every movement tossing them about like dolls. Ven managed to hook one of his swords on the thing's scales as it stood, with Thesis grabbing onto one of the spikes before he could fall, even managing to dangle from one hand and grab Shorty as she fell passed him.
Bartholomew and Nathaniel, both on the head, rocked and pitched about the most; the badger dropping prone as he did everything to keep his balance and the wolf having to cling to the 'cliff's edge as he nearly toppled off it.
Finally, after several moments that lasted nearly an eternity, the Tarrasque stood, its gaping maw stretched wide in a yawn that showed off incredibly large and sharp teeth. And the light streaming down from above managed to reveal something else that left Nathaniel's eyes wide as he looked down.
"Um, Bartholomew? I don't think this thing is an 'it'."
Nathaniel could barely believe what he was seeing. Not only was the massive creature standing on two legs like each of them, but he honestly couldn't all the way down to its feet, not with the two massive... circles, for lack of a better term, on its- no, her chest. The Tarrasque they had been questing to find and stop was a female; he'd honestly expect a detail like that to have been mentioned somewhere in the books he'd been studying about her.
"So I see." Bartholomew hauled the wolf back onto her head with a grunt. "What I don't see is how this changes our mission."
Nathaniel blinked, then shook his head to clear it. "Right, right... I don't know where my head's at right now."
"Hey! A little help back here would be appreciated!"
Bartholomew and Nathaniel looked at each other for a moment, then ran to the back of her head, looking down over the spikes running down her back. Ven still dangled there, both his swords hooked on the edge of a scale; Thesis and Shorty had, luckily, pulled themselves up onto one of the protruding spikes, meaning they were relatively safe for the time being.
"Dammit." Bartholomew lay down again, holding out his hammer for Ven to grab the head and let Bartholomew swing him up to pull himself up onto the head as well. "Okay... you two okay down there?"
"What the hell do you think?"
"Shorty's fine, Bartholomew. I lost my sword, but I'm okay."
Bartholomew nodded. "Okay, I need you to-"
The 'ground' shook again, cutting Bartholomew off as the Tarrasque started to move once more, heading to the edge of the pit.
Hands that could have held a full grown dragon in their grasp came up, the massive claws at the end sinking into the rock and dirt. Then, the same process repeated with similarly clawed feet and toes, each digging into the wall; then, with the wall groaning in protest, the Tarrasque began to climb.
It was almost unreal; the massive female was scaling straight up the wall as easily as any of them could climb a ladder. Granted, some chunks of it were torn loose in the process, but it barely seemed to slow here, if it slowed her at all. And, of course, the party was left stumbling and staggering as her movements obliviously tossed them about, Thesis and Shorty getting the worst of it down on her back.
"We need a new plan," Ven hissed, struggling to find some sort of grip that wouldn't knock him flat again.
"I know," Bartholomew snapped back with a growl, then turned to Nathaniel. "We need to stop it from reaching the top."
"Her," Nathaniel corrected automatically. "And how do you expect to do that when we couldn't even wake her up?"
Bartholomew glared at the wizard for a moment, then turned his attention to the wall as the Tarrasque continued to climb. "Hit the wall as she gets a hand hold. Then hit the other; it should knock her down."
Nathaniel started at him for several moments, then shook his head. "I'm going on record and saying this is a dumb plan."
"I think Shorty's rubbing off on you."
"Not in the mood, Ven." Nathaniel concentrated, waiting until the Tarrasque went to sink her claws into the cliff-face again, then blasting out the strongest Fireball he could cast.
The ground exploded in fire and stone, making the Tarrasque roar in surprise. She didn't seem to be hurt from what they could see, but she hadn't been expecting that; nor did she expect the ground around her other hand to explode in a similar manner.
With both her hand-holds gone, the beast's balance was lost, and she slipped backwards, her feet losing their grip as well. Comparatively speaking, the fall afterward wasn't all that long, only a few seconds, but the three on her head still landed pretty hard when she hit bottom. Thesis and Shorty didn't fare any better, knocked off the spike they had been on, and only saved from a fatal fall because they managed to hit the Tarrasque's rump first, bouncing off it and landing on the ground at an angle; painful, yes, but they'd both live to complain about it.
"Think she noticed that?"
It appeared the universe wasn't in the mood for Ven's sarcasm, as one of those massive hands suddenly snatched the three up in a single sweep of it. Bringing them around to her face as she glared at them; a growl so deep and loud it shook their very bones emanated from her throat, and her maw started to open.
"Hit her with everything you've got!" Bartholomew swung his hammer into one of her towering fingers, with Ven slashing away at another. Lightning, ice and fire crashed against her form from everything Thesis and Shorty could hurl at her, the Witch actually calling a storm of acid rain to deluge down on her. Even Nathaniel threw his entire stock of Fireball and Lightning Bolt spells at her, and every cantrip he could think of off the top of his head.
But nothing seemed to do anything. And, to make matters worse, they were nearing her maw and their eventual demise.
"Nathaniel, the spell!"
The wolf turned to Bartholomew. "But it-"
"We're out of options, just do it!"
Nathaniel bit his lip, trying to think of something, anything, besides wasting the only spell that could be used to send her back into hibernation. It only had a chance of working like that if she were already unconscious, but the chances of them getting her there seemed less than zero at this point. Bartholomew was right; there was nothing else any of them could do.
Reaching deep within himself, Nathaniel called on every bit of arcane knowledge he had ever learned. He had one shot, one cast, one chance to completely alter how the world worked in one instant. "I Wish..." His body started to glow as the power flooded through it; Wish was, perhaps, the most powerful spell a wizard could learn; able to make the the unreal a reality and wipe the slate clear for the impossible.
And, just maybe, able to save their lives.
"I Wish... that she wasn't a threat!"
For a single second, Nathaniel was certain he heard someone giggle just behind his ear, before the glow from his body sank into the Tarrasque's hand. It shot through her body like lightning, magnifying and growing in intensity as it did. She thrashed in pain, dropping them as she did, though they managed to survive thanks to Shorty calling up a whirlwind to slow them as they fell.
Light continued to surround the Tarrasque, covering her entire body as black smoke started to pour out of her, the light growing ever brighter and the creature's roars growing ever louder. Until, the light grew so bright they could see nothing else, and the creature gave one final, earth shaking bellow.
And everything was still.
"So... that happened."
It was night, the party had set up camp near in the same clearing as the hole, some distance away from the edge. While they didn't like the idea of camping out in the open like this, they were in no state to start the long trek back to civilization. Ven alone had twisted his ankle pretty badly in the fall, and Shorty hadn't used her left hand since the battle had ended.
Nathaniel, though not looking overly banged up, had cracked some ribs in the fall and was more or less sore all over. Only Bartholomew seemed to be more or less whole from the encounter, and he was busy scowling at the flames.
"Yes, that happened." The badger turned to Nathaniel. "I must admit, that wasn't the wish I was expecting you to make."
The wizard tried to shrug, but winced halfway through. "I panicked, okay? I just wanted the threat to go away."
"Probably could have worded it better, pup." Shorty winced as her familiar shifted about on her shoulders. "Might have made things a bit easier."
"I'm sorry, what else do you want me to say? I don't even know if it would have worked if I'd worded it differently."
"Can we not do this now?" Ven groaned, shifting his bum leg. "None of us are going to be thinking straight until Thesis can patch us up? When's he coming back anyway?"
The ground started shaking again, drawing the party's attention to the hole again. Without any ceremony, the massive, hulking figure of the Tarrasque cleared the edge, then brought her head close to the ground so the Minotaur could slide off an onto the ground. "There you go." The voice coming out her maw was deep, but far more feminine than it had a right to be. "And, again; sorry about... well, everything. I... I wasn't... really... well, thinking."
"I'm not going to complain about surviving; and you honestly seem apologetic, so it's no chip off my horns." Thesis walked over to join the group, smiling as he did. "Finally found my sword again, so, let's see about getting you guys back on your feet."
"Me first." Shorty winced as she shifted her arm to let Thesis get a better look at it, and ended up looking at the Tarrasque as she sat on the edge of the hole. "So... what are we going to do about her?"
Everyone was silent, even Thesis not really saying anything even after the conversation he'd shared with her.
"Well..." Ven started, "we're not really under any obligations to do anything about her now. Are we?"
"No..." Thesis admitted, his hands glowing as he ran them up and down Shorty's arm. "But, I don't like the idea of leaving her alone out here."
"Nor do I," Bartholomew admitted. "I'm sure it'd come back to bite us in the ass if we did."
The group fell silent again, before Nathaniel finally spoke up. "Um... we could let her come with us."
Everyone turned to him, some faster than others.
"I-I-I mean..." He found a particularly interesting blade of grass to look at. "Well... it's sorta our fault she's like this now, so that would mean it's our responsibility to help her now." He blushed. "And... well... she's... um..." He trailed off, muttering as his face took on a red hue.
Bartholomew's eye twitched. "I'm going to believe that you didn't say what I think you did there." However, he did grudgingly admit, "but you do have a point. She is our responsibility now; so... I suppose we will have to take her with us."
Nathaniel sighed in relief, or tried to before he winced from the pain in his ribs. "I'll, um... I'll let her know."
The wolf gingerly stood and slowly walked over to the Tarrasque as she continued to sit there. He managed to get close enough to her to touch one of her thighs, tail wagging as he could feel the thick and corded muscles beneath the scales. "Hey," he called up.
High above, she blinked and looked down, then smiled when she saw who it was. "Hey."
"So... remember that thing we talked about when you carried me up?"
Nathaniel braced himself. "Well, looks like you'll be joining us after all."
The Tarrasque, the very being that had nearly annihilated all of them not more than a few hours ago, squealed like an overly excited teenager, actually snatching him up and hugging him to her impressive chest. It was painful of course, given the state of his ribs, but Nathaniel couldn't help but smile even as he flinched in pain. Though she was quick to set him back down when she realized this. "Sorry... I got a bit excited..."
"It's fine, Thesis still needs to patch me up."
She winced at the mention of it. "Yeah... sorry about that too."
Nathaniel waved off her concern. "Don't worry about that; just part of the job. Speaking of which, have you given any thought to what sort of class you want to be?"
While it was mostly a formality, especially with as much power as she clearly had, there was just a system to how these things worked. Besides how bad could it-
"Well... I've been thinking about it for a while, and... I think I'd make a pretty good bard, don't you?"