Ring. Ring. A set of bells rang.
“Thea...” I lisped, blinking my eyes as a familiar pattern of brown entered my sights. Shuffling to a walk, I tumbled beside a smooth brown wall.
Ring. Ring. The mansion trembled.
“Urgh… T-thea!” I called as I grasped a wooden rail, propping myself up as I supported my round stomach with my other.
Ring. Then the trembling stopped.
“T-thea..! Augh…” In short breaths, I rasped my teeth, clenching the rails till it creaked.
Sustaining my support, I leaned on the wall, skidding down till I sat on my knees. “Thea...” Again, I called as the familiar hallway became vivid by the second. “Hhaah...” I breathed, resting the side of my head beside the wall. As I waited, my heart thumped faster by the second while a sharp pain streaked throughout my body.
“Thea...” Feeling a warm and damp sensation, I felt something leaking between my thighs, drenching my feet and my dress as it sipped in between the wooden edges. “Aaagh!” Gritting my teeth, I arched my back to endure, unconsciously grabbing the rail, slightly lifting my body. With a splash, I fell back on the wet floor panting. "Hhagh... Hah... Hhah..."
It hurts, It hurts, It hurts… For the first time in my life, I felt physical pain.
With my trembling hand, I reached for the rail once again, propping myself up, forcing my quivering legs to stand. With a dull thud, I leaned on the side of the walls. One step at a time, I teetered along the hallway cautiously. Unexpectedly I crossed my feet and tripped, forward first.
Unfurling my eyelids, I forced the last bit of my capabilities to reduce my fall by manipulating the gravity. Steadily, I laid on the floor breathing roughly in relief.
S-safe… I thought.
In a series of thuds came a voice. “Celestia!” Quickly turning to the hallway, “What are you doing here!” She shouted panting as her hair glowed in a reminiscent gold.
Placing her arms underneath my thighs and shoulder, “Thea...” I muttered as view shifted to her chin and the ceiling. “It hurts...”
Repeatedly turning her neck she muttered. “Oh, no...” As I stared at the ceiling, I felt my body shaking.
Why does this have to happen… I thought as my view shrank.
“Celestia, don’t lose consciousness!” Staring with her quivering golden eyes, I fought against the pain and maintained my eyelids open.
As the ceiling brown ceiling turned to white, I felt my body sinking into a soft white object.
“Ah, it already broke...” Digging underneath my waist, I felt Thea’s fingers gliding over my skin, removing a white cloth with a rustling sound. Although slight, I felt a shiver down my spine from being exposed while damp underneath. Taking a quick look, Thea spread my legs wide.
Against my thighs, Thea pressed her fingers coated in white light. When her fingers met the surface of my skin, the light expanded and enveloped my body. Gradually, a pleasant and tender sensation emerged from within me, helping me stabilize my breathing.
“Celestia, I’ve already healed and purified you, but the pain from the labor, I can only reduce it to some extent.” Passing the back of her hand over her forehead, she continued. “Besides, I’m just copying how the humans did it, so please bear with it.”
In response, I nodded.
Moving to my sides, she wrapped my hands with a white cloth. “Grab on those later.” Using her fingers, she pried my mouth open from my chin. “Bite on this cloth.” Unable to reply, I bit on the cloth.
Blinking several times, “Celestia,” she placed a hand over my stomach. “I know you’re like a human right now, but try to push the child slowly.” Gulping, I nodded repeatedly. “Now, slowly, use your muscles to push it.”
Slightly contracting my muscles on my abdomen, I unintentionally arched my body. “Urr!!”
“Does it hurt that much?” Painted with a frown and breaking a sweat, she asked.
“How about right now?”
I shook my head.
“It hurts when you try to push?”
“Haah...” She sighed. “It can’t be helped. If we only knew you’d slowly lose your abilities the longer you reject the rest of your soul just to maintain that body, it would’ve been easier...”
Impossible, I’m the first divine to do such an act, none of us would know the consequences…
“Anyway, try again.”
With a tug, I pulled the cloth wrapped around hands taut as I bent myself forward, with nothing to see. Clenching my teeth as I breathe, “Fuu! Fuu!” My cheeks inflated, fighting against the twisting pain. With a soft thud, I leaned my back against the bed, breathing roughly through the cloth. “Fhuuu… Fhuuu...”
Wearing a worried expression, “Celestia, why not let go of it? You can always adopt an abandoned child somewhere.”
With my heaving chest into view, I mustered a glare towards Thea. An adopted child is not the same! I wouldn't have gone to such lengths if I thought like that!
Seeming to know what I meant, “Celestia, you’re so weak now that even I can kill you right now.” She said. “Charon transferred this mansion to a different dimension inside the Sea of Clouds. Cybele and Demeter raised a barrier to protect the entrance to this dimension. Just below this dimension, Jormugandr is preparing to retaliate against anyone who crosses the Sea of Clouds. Outside the Sea of Clouds, The Leviathan twins, Legethon, Cocytus, Siarys, Pietys, Rystys, and Vakaris, they are all intercepting those who wished to enter and eliminate you while you're at your weakest.”
Unable to mutter a reply, I stared at Thea. This is a first, to be the one protected instead.
“Celestia, promise me, this is the last time you'll do this.” Unsmiling, she said. “And remember, you owe everyone for this trouble you caused.”
Silently I returned a nod. I’m sorry, but I would’ve done everything myself if I knew this would happen…
“Take this as a sign that we are not supposed to give birth.”
With a nod, I endured another round of excoriating pain. I sweated as continued to clench on the cloth. I heaved, and heaved, as I played a tug of war with my insides as the rope. “Ffuu… Ffuu...” I breathed in the slight relief every time I surrender to the pain.
Covered in beads of sweat, the lids of my eyes quivered. I feel light...
“Celestia!” She snapped. “Don’t lose consciousness now! Else everything will be for naught!” Worried, she reached out her hand and touched my cheeks. “Just a bit longer, okay? You can do that without passing out, right?”
Weakly, I nodded.
Skimming her fingers from my nose down to my cheeks, she said. “You used to be the strongest guardian, and you will still be after you regain everything, right?”
After confirming my nod, she moved again to my rear.
Digging my fingers into the cloth, I felt a searing pain running through my spine accompanied by the region between my thighs ripping apart. “Ffuuu... Ffuuu...”
“Keep going, the head is out, just a little more.”
“Hfngh!!” I pushed, feeling my hips ripping apart.
“Hfngh!!” Tears streamed from my eyes.
Mustering everything I have left, “Hfngh!!” I pushed arching my body forward. When I lost my strength, I fell back to the bed, powerless.
“...” Silently I waited for Thea’s voice, but what I heard was a cry, “Uwaaah! Uwaaah!”
“Celestia, wake up, It’s a girl,” Thea said, placing my child over my chest, covered with a cloth.
Feeling her weight, and hearing her cry, a tender warmth filled my lifeless body. Gently, I raised the lids blocking my eyes. As soon as I opened my eyes, my sights were immediately absorbed by the child before me.
Lifting my hand, I gently held my child, allowing her to grasp my fingers with her cute and tiny hands.
“This is my child...” Smiling, I weakly muttered. “My very own... Child...”
Silver hair, she bore the same silver hair as I. I thought as the last drops of tears emerged from eyes. It is truly mine.
Satisfied, I surrendered my body.
I shall name her after that woman...
“Ele-na, Ele-na,” Cradling Elena in my hands, I sang her a lullaby. “Sleep my sweet Ele-na.”
No matter what, Elena is so cute! Forming a deep smile, I carried Elena in my arms as I caressed her against my chest.
Sitting beside me, “C-celestia,” Thea called wearing a worried expression. “Shouldn’t you fully accept the rest of your soul now?”
Shifting my sights to Thea, “Please give me a month or two so I could savor being a human mother.”
“I’ll do anything in return, but please, at least keep the situation outside stale for at least two months,” I said, slightly bowing my head. “I’ll take care of everything afterward. I just want to retain this human body longer so I can feed her like this.”
“The rest of your soul, wouldn’t it be in danger if you reject it any longer than this?”
“I think it’s fine,” I shook my head. “It’s probably something that the Gods placed inside me to not veer off from what I am ordered to do.”
“Then, that means that you being a mother is not something that’s supposed to happen?”
“I guess.” Wryly, I smiled. “It’s probably because of my instincts shifting into protecting Elena instead of Origin.”
“True,” she replied. “But wouldn’t that be resolved if you change back your priorities?”
“No,” I answered. “The rest of my soul, which I returned to the moon, is trying to dilute the soul I have now which is affected by my motherly instincts.”
“That...” She frowned.
“So please, give me at least two months to try modifying this soul.” Again, I bowed my head. “I don't want the moments I shared with Elena to be just a simple memory...” Then I shifted my sights back to Elena peacefully feeding herself through my chest.
I won’t let it happen. I can live without losing either Origin or Elena.
As the days passed, I spent my time around Elena.
“There there.” Sliding my fingers underneath the back of her head and hips, I lifted her into a cradle. Moving the strap of my dress aside, I fed her again.
Such a glutton. Smiling, I thought. But go ahead and grow up Elena, mama will need your help soon.
Singing her a lullaby, I repeated her name again and again till she falls asleep. Remaining close, I slept beside her, making a pillow of my crossed arms placed atop the bed.
One day you’ll be able to hold my hand instead of a single finger. I thought as I stared at her sleeping while grasping my finger.
Every time she wakes up, she’ll cry, a signal for me to wake up alongside her; I’ll cradle her, feed her, play with her small fingers, caress her springy cheeks, press my nose against hers, kiss her, all I did is spend my time with her. Moments that I wished that'd last forever; a time when I felt an endless warmth.
It didn’t matter whether what I was doing was the same every day. It was a fleeting moment just for me and Elena, a treasure I could call mine and mine alone.
Each time she laughed, I’d always return a smile. Each time she cried, I’d hold her dear. Each time she slept, I’d warmly gaze at her till I fall asleep. Words cannot describe it, that is, being a mother myself, a being who's not supposed to be a mother of one, but a mother of all.
“Are you okay?” Anxious, Thea asked.
“Yes,” Brushing past Elena’s lovely silver hair, I nodded. “Elena, mama will be out for a bit.”
Elena... As if holding me dear, she reached for my finger and grasped it. No, I mustn't...
“Elena,” Expressing a lonely smile, I used my hands to grasp her hands. “I'm sorry Elena, but mama needs to go. I promise mama will return.”
Contorting her face, “Ngh.” Elena began crying. “Ngah! Ngah!”
“Elena, please, not now.” A drop fell on my arms as I brush my fingers on her cheeks. “Your aunt Thea is here for you so don't cry...”
Releasing my hands, I slowly turned my back against the crying Elena.
“Celestia, we can still hold it for a few more days.”
Shaking my head, “Thea, please tempt me no more.” I shed another tear. “Please take care of Elena for a bit.”
Digging my fingers into my palms, I took one step and another.
I'll take some time till I see this patterned floor again…
Facing the familiar hallway, my lips quivered.
Two months should be enough…
Then I took another step.
A week has passed since Celestia left, and still, Elena has been somewhat down. “Ungah! Ungah!”
Feeding Elena is a task. Frowning, I thought.
“Elena...” Although she drank from the bottle I gave her, the amount is incomparable when she usually drank through Celestia's chest. “Come now, just a little more.”
Celestia, please return quickly…
Abruptly, Elena’s cries softened when steps resounded from the hallway. Celestia? I thought. Carefully placing my hands underneath her, I carried her and walked towards the hallway.
“C-celestia?” From the hallway came the figure of a familiar woman who bore antler-like horns. But unlike her previous demeanor, her motherly smile is missing. “Are you okay Celestia?”
This… feels wrong… Conflicted, I thought.
Halting a step away, Celestia looked me in the eye. “Amalthea,” She called as my eye widened in surprise. “Is this, my child?” She asked, shifting her eyes to Elena as Elena returned a stare.
“C-celestia...” I stuttered. “Do you remember?”
“Yes,” She answered with a slight nod.
“Then, you should be back to normal, right?”
“I am, but my curiosity remains.”
There’s still a chance.
“Celestia, won’t you take Elena?” I said. “She’s been crying non-stop, she probably missed you.”
“I guess,” She replied while staring back at Elena.
Passing Elena to her, Elena began tried to reach out to her. “Mmuuu. Mmuuu.” Elena tried to speak.
“See?” I said. “Why don’t you greet her back since you’ve returned?”
“I guess,” She muttered. “Elena, your mo-...” Suddenly, halting her speech.
“Something… Feels wrong...” She continued as she stared at Elena trying to reach her face.
Unable to take it any longer, I grabbed Celestia’s hand and made Elena grasp it while I supported Elena's body with my other hand. “There,” I said. “She's asking for your hand Celestia.”
“Right...” Slightly, her body froze for a very short moment.
“Now, why don’t you repeat it again?”
“Yes...” She blinked. “Elena, your mo- no,” She shook her head. “Mama has returned.” Although slight, the corner of her lips raised as Elena returned a bright smile. “Mmuu!”
It’s still inside her. I thought with a smile. Now they only need time.