look what i found!
Rune opens the door to the shed-turned-bedroom and walks in, a Darlindo at their heels and a Skelloul at their shoulder. Kelisade and Chirenne are curled up together on their palette on the floor. Chirenne is loafing but awake and alert, staring balefully at the… something in Kelisade’s lap. Kelisade’s petting and cooing at the same something, but looks up and brightens at Rune’s approach.
“Hi, Rune!” she chirps, then looks at the Skelloul. It plays a quick riff on its guitar.
Kelisade groans exasperatedly. “Yes, I did my homework.”
It plays the riff again. “And I cleaned the basement.”
Another, different riff and a gesture to Rune. Kelisade translates. “Oh! Jimi wants to know if you’re staying for dinner.”
“Well… if it’s not too much trouble…”
“Yeah, they’re staying.”
Jimi winks and finger guns, then plays one more riff as it floats out the door. Rune politely closes the door behind it. “So what was it you were so excited about?”
Kelisade leans over to drag an oversized, overly-patterned beanbag chair in front of her, then pats it invitingly. “So you know I went on that expedition, right?”
“Riiiiiight...” Rune says, gracefully sitting on the beanbag. The Darlindo sniffs it, then settles and loafs next to it. “How was getting to skip class, by the way?”
“Oh, it was fucking awesome, but that’s not the coolest part.” Kelisade lifts up the something in her lap and holds it over her head like a trophy. “Look at what I found~!”
...It’s a icosahedron with wings. Its black body glitters with iridescence. Three sets of wings idly twitch and fluff up as its silver halo rotates lazily behind it.
Confused and curious. Rune leans this way and that, trying to get a better look at it. “Ummm… what am I supposed to be looking at –”
A red eye on one of its faces flies open and Rune yelps and jumps. It glares at them with unbridled malice.
“It’s a Polyphim!” Kelisade barrels on, oblivious to the staredown. She cuddles the Polyphim close to her chest. “A creacher! My creacher! I showed him to the teacher heading the expedition, and they had never seen ‘em before! Which means I discovered them! Me!”
“It’s weird, isn’t it,” Chirenne says, licking her paw. “It’s too weird. I don’t like it. Convince her to get rid of it.”
More eyes open up across the Polyphim’s face. They all death-glare Rune.
“Chirenne, no,” Kelisade chides. “We’re not getting rid of Eugene. You’re just going to have to accept your new sibling.”
“I think the fuck not.”
All of Eugene’s eyes are open now. A low, threatening hum starts to emanate from it – then, a rumble. The Darlindo, dozing against the beanbag, snapped wide awake, her hackles slowly raising. Terror grips Rune’s heart, the rumbling shaking them to their core. They can’t decide whether to hide or to bolt.
“Umm, Kelisade…?” they say, starting to climb out of the beanbag, their eyes widening with worry and fright. “W-What is – what is it doing?”
“Huh?” Kelisade looks down at Eugene, then rolls their eyes. “Ugh, not this again. Hey!” She waves a hand in front of its faces. It startles and stops rumbling, but its eyes don’t leave Rune until Kelisade turns it around to face her. “Now listen! You are not gonna be an anti-social shit like Chirenne –“
“I resent that remark,” Chirenne says.
“–you are going to nice and sweet and sociable! Rune is a friend, see? Friiiiiend.” Kelisade holds Eugene out to Rune, and its eyes snap back to them. “Rune, pet him.”
Rune looks at Kelisade like she’s grown a second head. “…What.”
“You heard me! Pet the polygon!”
Rune makes an I-don’t-want-to noise. Eugene starts the low humming again.
“… the correct word would be ‘polyhedron’, actually –”
“Just pet him!”
Rune sighs, then slowly, slowly… sloooowly raises their hand. Eugene starts to rumble as the hand approaches him – until fingers delicately pat one of his edges. He falls silent. A few eyes close.
Kelisade gasps excitedly. “He likes it!” she stage-whispers. She lets her hands fall away, leaving Eugene floating in mid-air. “Keep going!”
Rune pats his edge a little more firmly. Eugene starts humming again, but it’s lighter, more musical. He drifts lazily towards them and lands in their lap, more of his eyes drooping shut.
“Awww~! I knew he could do it,” Kelisade beams. “Sorry if he scared you. Apparently Polyphim are suuuper protective.”
Eugene does this half-rolling motion, nuzzling into Rune’s stomach. The Darlindo startles, still eyeing him, and she stands up and hisses.
“Oh no,are you upset?” Kelisade coos,holding her hand to the creacher. The creacher whips around to bare her teeth at the hand. “Don’t be scared, I’m not gonna hurt you…”
“...Shouldn’t you be more careful?” Rune asks. “I’m fairly sure they eat people.”
“Nah, only if you’re straight.” Kelisade stays still as the Darlindo cautiously sniffs at her hand, then creeps towards her to sniff down her arm. “Come on, that’s it…”
Somewhere in the Darlindo’s mind, a switch flips. She makes a happy chitter and flops gracelessly into Kelisade’s lap and lands on her back, legs in the air and showing her belly.
“Well, aren’t you a sweetie,” Kelisade coos, scratching the Darlindo’s belly. The creacher chitters again, squirming and squinting her three eyes in bliss. “Where’d you find her?”
Rune huffs. “In the marketplace. I was almost home before I noticed she had followed me.”
“That’s a pretty long way for any creacher to follow someone. She must’ve been really drawn to you.” Kelisade turns her attention back to the Darlindo. “Isn’t that right, widdle baby~?”
The Darlindo chitters and bleps.
Chirenne stares at Kelisade, absorbed in baby-talkingthe people-eating deer, then drags her gaze towards Rune. Her expression morphs from suspicious, to understanding, to smug. She pretends to pick at her claws.
“You know, this reminds me of something I overheard one day,” she says with a fake casual air. “A student was complaining about how their Darlindo had trotted up to their crush and demanded affection from them, without any say-so or input from their owner. It seems Darlindos are known for it.” Chirenne looks Rune dead in the eye, a shit-eating grin spreading on her face. “You wouldn’t have anything to confess now, would you?”
Rune flushes and stutters and quickly turns their head, their face aiming for haughty but landing on embarrassed. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”