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Mrmander20 t1_je2xwgp wrote

As expected, nobody says anything at first. Varsiel looks like he's wondering whether he wants to ask a question or fire an arrow first.

"Menee, dear, introduce us!"

Orgah, the Crone, lurches over, blackened teeth bared in what she thinks is a friendly smile. Varsiel is tall even by the standards of the elves, but Orgah still towers over him.

"I think they need a minute, mom," I mumble. "Could somebody make some tea?"

"Oh, I'll get it," Auli says. She hustles off towards the kitchen. My friends follow her with their eyes for a moment. None of them catch a glimpse of what's under her long gown, but they all see the trail of slime she leaves behind as she moves. "Rin, get them comfortable, would you?"

"Oh, no-"

It's too late. Rin's the hardest to explain. As the Maiden, she often plays the role of seductress -in whatever shape that takes. To me, she chooses to look like my birth mother, but she looks like something else to everyone. An object of love or desire, usually. From the look on Vald's face, I can tell he's seeing the wife he lost. I don't want to imagine what everyone else might be seeing. Varsiel is intrigued, but Grimm looks more confused than anything.

"Come in, have a seat," Rin says, in a voice that is different but equally inviting to everyone who hears it. "Any friend of Menee's is a friend of ours."

"Unless o'course you're here to be killing us, in which case we can skip the sit," Orgah says.

"Not today, mom," I say. "Not any day."

"Nonsense. 'Tis prophesied," Orgah says.

Vald is the first to crack. Even the legendary stoicism of the dwarves can only endure so much.

"What in all hell is going on?"

Orgah extends a massive arm and gently shoves him on to a nearby stool before addressing Vald's question.

"Menee, would you rather tell it, or let Auli? She does so love to tell that story."

"I'll let her," I say. I have no idea where to begin anyway. My party members have sat down, but they're still eyeing the witches, and keeping a hand near their weapons. Thankfully, Auli is quick with the tea, and the story.

"Oh, it's a terrible, tear-filled story," Auli says, before breaking into the tale with a smile on her face. "Menee's dear departed mother lost her husband to the plague, then caught it herself just as she was due to deliver poor Menee into the world."

I can't help but glance at Rin as she speaks. I know it's just a fake face, but it's still the face of the woman who birthed me.

"Knowing they'd both die otherwise, the dear girl comes to us and says we can have her daughter so long as we promise her a long and healthy life," Auli says. "And we accept."

"Plenty of uses for a girl 'round the house," Orgah says. "Even if'n ye can't eat 'em."


Grimm had reached for his sword, only stopping when Orgah laughed at her own joke.

"Ho ho! Ah, Anyway," Orgah says. 'Course, knowing we'd promised to do no harm to her, the Dread King, whom we'd cursed to fear cold iron, cursed us in turn, and said that our child would one day be our death."

"A rather vexing development," Rin mumbled.

"Not much to be done 'bout a proper curse, of course," Orgah said. "Trying to kill the destined child never ends well. If I ever tried to eat her I'm sure Auli would just exchange her with a rock, and then where would I be?"

"With our deaths thus unavoidable, we settled on a course," Rin sighed. "To be kind to the child, so our inevitable deaths are at least merciful."

"Momma, I'm not going to kill you," I say. "I'm not going to kill any of you."

"So you say."

"You're still alive."

"I'd rather ye just get on with it, really," Orgah mutters. "Prophecy is prophecy, and I'd rather ye do it right than drop a kettle on me head on accident."

"There's arsenic in the kitchen if you'd like to put it in the tea, Menee dear."

"Mom! Stop. I'm not here to kill you," I snap. "Aren't you all supposed to be in the Howlingwood this time of year anyway?"

"Dreadful infestation of direflies, dear, you'd know if you came to visit more often," Rin says.

"I'm an adventurer now, mom, I get busy and I travel a lot."

"Oh, an adventurer, are you in Caldwell's Company?"

"Hah! Fine lady, we are the Nereid Avengers," Varsiel said, his elven pride winning out over any fear he felt of my moms.

"Oh. How nice," Auli says. "Are you good adventurers?"

"Surely you've heard of us, we helped liberate the undersea kingdom of Nereius?"

Auli maintained a polite smile with surprising grace.

"Yes, yes, we've done a lot of quests, like the one we're currently on," Vald thunders. "We need a potion of true seeing, have you got one or what?"

"Raspberry or blackcurrant flavored?"

Vald stares blankly at Auli for a solid tens seconds before speaking.

"Raspberry," he sighs. Auli shuffles off to the potion cabinet. Varsiel sips at his tea as she digs through the bottles.

"And what perilous trials must we endure for this favor," he blusters. "Must we gather ingredients from the perilous swamp? Answer your most vexing riddles?"

"Ye can knock a few notches of your ego off, for starters," Orgah says. "And secondly, in exchange for this boon, we must ask you for a sworn oath. A promise to be kept, lest ye face the terrible wrath of the coven!"

Varsiel looks more excited than scared.

"Bring m'daughter back here round harvest time, would ye? There's nettles in the garden something fierce, and me joints ache terribly so. We could use the extra hand."

It takes everything I have not to laugh as Varsiel's face drops. I can tell Vald and Grimm are thinking the same. Grimm actually has to put a hand over his mouth to hold the giggles back.

"I- I swear it so," Varsiel mumbles. "Upon my honor, you shall...have your daughter's help...doing your...gardening."

Even his practiced poise breaks under the circumstances, and his disappointment is clear. Orgah laughs, snatches the potion from Auli as she approaches, and shoves it into his hands.

"I'll hold you to that oath, elf," she barks. "Now, will you lot be stayin' for dinner?"

"Actually, moms, there is currently a demon possessing the mayor of Aullifield, so we really need to take this potion and be on our way," I say. As I stand, my party members are all too eager to leave. Vald and Grimm have noticed the pile of skulls in the corner, and my mothers aren't quite charming enough to overcome the creepiness of their bone collection. After the drawn out goodbye's, I manage to shuffle my party out the door and away from the hut, with Grimm sparing one more confused glance at Rin before the door slams shut.

"Now I see why you don't talk about your childhood much," Vald says.

"Actually, I don't talk about it because it's boring," I say. "They had to raise me happy and healthy. I had tomato sandwiches for lunch and the first book I learned to read was The Very Hungry Linnorm, just like most other kids."

"Ah, but surely your skills as a thief were developed over daring escape attempts from the witches abode?"

"No, actually, they were developed by breaking out of the estates of valiant knights who tried to 'rescue' me."

"Well. Hmm. We're on our way to completing our quest, and that's what matters," Varsiel says. "Vald, lead the way!"

Vald takes the lead, but the journey is much less arduous going than it was coming. Now that the local witches know it's their daughter treading in the Murk, the trip is easier. Eventually the sun even starts to come out, and Grimm relaxes enough to lower his sword and walk alongside me.

"Uh, Menee, if you don't mind," he mumbles. "I did have a question about one of your mothers."

"I don't know what's under Auli's skirt either."

"not her. The younger one, I think? Rin?"

I already know what he's going to ask. Rin showed him what he wanted most. I should tell him to stop, but on the other hand, I could find out which barmaid he's pining for and tease him about it for a few weeks.

"What about her?"

"Why does she look like you?"


Ok-Mastodon2016 OP t1_je3i7tb wrote

  1. I appreciate the Maiden, Mother Crone thing, that's what I was thinking od
  2. that ending is platinum

whoamiforrealsie t1_je3vp70 wrote

You had me early on. And then you made my heart stop and lose my breath. Full sincerity and honesty. I’ve never had a reaction like this to a story here.

Edit: A word


Fries_and_burgers_19 t1_je4azud wrote

Utterly obsessed. How the 3 witch moms are so loving to the child, how they're so content and happy with her that to not make it all so disappointing and sad they just offer her the opportunity to kill them then and there. The way that end goal potion was just given away in exchange for their daughter coming over for house chores

And the cherry on top in the end. Brainrot kicked in to how she'll react to that piece of information


JustMeNotTheFBI t1_je3yuzu wrote

So uh.. (nicely) part two please?


danimadi33 t1_je786l1 wrote

Honestly with how good the writing is I'd rather not get a part two.

The awkwardness would be prime


justadimestorepoet t1_je44ggi wrote

Love, love, love this! Wish I could upvote multiple times. It reminds me of stories like Stardust (there are probably better examples, but I just read it fairly recently and I've only just started getting into fantasy novels), with the tongue-in-cheek tone mixed with an overall groundedness. I think the last line would have hit sooner and harder if this was say, a hundred pages into the tale of our heroes (however long it would take to become familiar with them and their dynamic), but once it sunk in, I think I gasped a little.

Brilliant work. If this was a novel, I would buy it immediately.


WolvenHeart0114 t1_je467cn wrote

I want a part two SO badly, JUST to see the reaction that last line. Excellent work, and I hope Grimm gets an answer!


Matt0071895 t1_je4qvg6 wrote

I really need a book series of this a la Forgotten realms asap.


Hminney t1_je4q72i wrote

Made me laugh out loud! Excellent!


pez5150 t1_je5u0dh wrote

man that twist ending comment. Great job!


sponge-cakey t1_je7c14c wrote

I was loving it the whole way through but I genuinely gasped at the ending. Pure gold!


jardanovic t1_je3qmjp wrote

Mama Skuld hugged me tightly as she said, "Oh, our baby girl has finally come back home! C'mere, let mama kiss you!"

I sighed but leaned down so Skuld could kiss my cheek. I heard Abe the rogue's signature obnoxious cackle behind me, prompting me to deadpan, "One word out of you and I carve my initials onto your ribcage. While it's still in your chest."

Mama Urd flicked my ear and remarked, "Belle Sumarbrander, you know the rules: no horseplay in the house!"

"Sorry mama."

Ulrich the cleric glanced around the hut as he said, "So, you're Belle's parents. And you're just... okay with the fact your daughter chose to be a barbarian as opposed to a warlock or something?"

Mama Verdandi took a break from stirring the cauldron to join the others in hugging me. "Aw, we could never be disappointed in our little girl. It's the duty we've been called to as her mothers."

Gilead the ranger cleared his throat and piped up, "As heartwarming as this is, we're actually here on a sidequest. We need a Potion of Gaseous Form, and apparently we can get it from you. Can you help us?"

Urd gave Gilead a thumbs up. "Easy peasy, pretty pleasey! But we can get to that in the morning. Please, stay! We're making yak stew for dinner and we always have plenty to go around."

Leilani the artificer smiled at the thought and responded, "That would be lovely, Mrs. Sumarbrander. Thank you!"

Urd happily ushered my party into the dining room. "Oh, please, call me Urd. I insist!"

Once everyone had left the room, Verdandi whispered, "That fairy girl is the artificer you mentioned in all your letters, right?"

I blushed and nodded. "Leilani. My cherry blossom."

Skuld applauded softly. "Well, it is about time you finally introduced us to our future daughter-in-law."

"Mama, please."

Skuld giggled. "I'm joking, honeybun! I'll settle for telling embarrassing stories about you."

I sighed. "I'll take it." I hugged Skuld and Verdandi gently as I added, "It really is nice to come home and see you guys. I missed you."

Skuld and Verdandi hugged me back as the latter softly replied, "We missed you too, pumpkin. Now let's go sit down before your mother gets snippy about dinner."


whoamiforrealsie t1_je3vyd5 wrote

This is just what I needed to read! What a wonderfully happy story to think of and share!


TinyBard t1_je438dr wrote

The hut, larger on the inside than it is on the outside, filled with shadow that swirled like a thick fog. From the midst of the fog emerged a haunting cackle of a voice

"So..." the voice croaked as a pair of glowing yellow eyes appeared from the darkness. "Quite the group of hopefuls has come to our little home seeking our magicks."

The cloud of shadow cleared slightly and the inhuman silhouette of the speaker was revealed.

"You must know, that everything has a price..." The form said, a gleeful note in its voice.

"Are you prepared to-" the voice cut of unexpectedly as the fog cleared enough to reveal my party standing in the doorway of the hut more clearly to the speaker.

"GRETA! ASTRID!" the voice suddenly called, all croakiness gone. The voice suddenly sounded like any mother you might find in a hundred different cities. "Kiki is back! She brought her friends!"

As one, the other four members of my party turned to look at me as I half huddled in the doorway. Their expressions very clearly expressing incredulous confusion.

Light suddenly flared in the hut as the shadow-fog vanished, revealing the slightly larger than human sized form of Madame Morrigan, first of the swamp witches, and one of my adopted mothers. Her skin was a pale greenish color, and her hair looked like bunched seaweed. The excited grin on her face softened her otherwise rather alarming features.

There was a matched pair of popping noises as two more figures appeared on either side of Morrigan. The one on Morrigan's left was inhumanly tall and veiled from head to toe in thick black cloth. The top of her head brushed the ceiling of the hut, a good seven and a half feet off the ground. While the figure on Morrigan's right was indistinguishable from any middle-aged human woman you could find anywhere.


Clegg's eyebrows had risen so high on his craggy forehead that they had nearly vanished underneath his pot helm. And our priest, Vasta, looked like she torn between fainting in fear or exploding with curiosity.


I hastily stepped forward into the space between my party and my mothers.

"Everyone," I said, glad my large hat and high collar were hiding the blush creeping up my face. "These are my adopted parents."


The hero, Rexin, made a small choking noise at that, which I chose to ignore. I gestured to the tall black robed figure. "This is Nana Gretta." Gretta gave a willowy bow. "Mother Morrigan," I continued, gesturing to the toadlike form in the center, "And Momma Astrid" I finished, indicating the human-looking woman.


"Moms," I said, turning towards them. "This is my adventuring party," I pointed at each member as I said their names. "The hero Rexin, our fighter Clegg, Vasta the priest, and Ranger Mordin."


There was an awkward silence as both groups looked at each other, with me standing uncomfortably in the center.


Thankfully, Astrid broke the silence by sweeping forward. "We're delighted to meet Kiki's friends!" She said, genuinely, beginning to usher my still stunned party towards a side door. "Please, come in, have a cup of tea!" She paused briefly to pull me into a hug as she passed.


As my party was mothered out of the room to the kitchen, both Gretta and Morrigan pulled me into their own hugs, though Gretta did pause to speak quietly to me as she did so.


"You should have said something when you left." She said in a voice that sounded like a hundred whispers. "We were so worried when you just vanished."


Morrigan nodded as she pulled me into another hug. "The letters have been nice, but we miss you so much!" She said, some real croakiness returning to her voice.


I returned Mother's hug, feeling my own eyes starting to prick with tears. "I'm sorry." I said in a small voice. "But I didn't think you would let me go be an adventurer."


"Certainly not," Nana said as the three of us started for the kitchen too. "You definitely weren't ready to go out into that dangerous world."


Mother, her arm still around my shoulder, gave me a sideways look, "Now though," she said, sounding thoughtful. "Now you look every inch the black mage we always knew you could be."


I looked down and smiled, glad again for the hat and coat to hide my embarrassed blush.


As we entered the kitchen, Momma was pouring tea from an enormous floating teapot into eight mismatched cups as my party sat around the rough wooden table, looking confused.

"The Hero's party?" Momma was saying, sounding truly impressed and proud. "I always knew our Kiki was destined for great things."


"I'm still just a Hero candidate Ma'am." Rexin said modestly as Momma swept around the table, offering cakes and biscuits from a tin that shouldn't have been able to hold quite so many baked goods. "We're still only B ranked at the moment, retrieving a potion from..." he hesitated apparently unwilling to say 'from the three great swamp witches' He cleared his throat to cover his hitch and continued "...From you is part of our promotion exam to rank A."


"What kind of potion do you need?" Momma said as she swept around the table again, this time catching me in an embrace before I realized what was happening.

Rexin launched into an explanation of how one of the Duke's daughters had fallen ill and needed a special healing draught to recover as my three mothers and I sat ourselves around the table too.


I felt myself relaxing as I sipped Momma's excellent tea and took in the indefinable homeliness of this hut. I hadn't realized that I was drifting off until Momma was gently shaking me awake. I glanced at the window, slightly shocked to see that the sun was already setting.


"Your friends are going to stay the night." She said, pulling me into another hug as she helped me to my feet. "We'll figure out what kind of potion you need in the morning." She didn't mention what we both knew, that there would still be the matter of cost. The type of magic my mothers practiced involved cost and sacrifice as an integral part of the spellcraft. Even if they didn't inflate the price for us, as they tended to do for others who came seeking boons, the cost of such a potion as we were likely to need would almost certainly not be counted in gold coins.


At the door to my old room, Momma paused to give me another hug. "We're so proud of you." She said into my shoulder. I was vaguely surprised to find that I had grown taller than her while I was away.


As Momma began to pull away, didn't let go of the hug immediately. "I've missed you Momma," I said, trying valiantly not to start crying "But I can't stay, the party needs me."


"I know sweetie," Momma said, sounding slightly tearful herself. "Just be careful, and know you'll always have a place here with us if you need it."


Ok_Draw_6843 t1_je5zk27 wrote

Be funny if the price was based on the witch’s subconscious desires and the daughter knows it so trades them like 3 embarrassing stories from her parties adventures and about her first kiss which was with the hero. The witches would be cackling and giggling etc while she blushes but the contract is fulfilled because her embarrassment is part of the cost etc…


TinyBard t1_je63ee5 wrote

These types of prices tend to be like that: memories, sensations, stories, sometimes services (like a quest). So it's within the realm of possibilities that the price be embarrassing stories.


edenflicka t1_je5pi7w wrote

I want to know what the price is. Ngl.


NotAMeatPopsicle t1_je888em wrote

If it isn’t in embarrassing stories, it’s likely to have their daughter back on witch’s holidays.


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