By tercio

> Master! MASTER! MASTER!!!

> Kalina desperately pounded her fists against the viewport as the increasingly distant discontinuity tore itself apart

> the nightmare entity which had threatened to turn their existence's Plane of Change into a Realm of Insanity was dying

> along with her husband

> she wailed in absolute despair as the tumbling remains of Dr. Grimalkin's "Other-Place-Far-Goer-Toer" were violently flung through a random portal

> she awoke at the bottom of a crater to familiar smells

> cold clean air

> fresh pine

> wet snow

> the O.P.F.G.T. had crashed in the Frozen Northlands

> her home

> the place where she had met her Master all those years ago

> the place she had never wanted to leave

> the place that love had made her abandon

> but now he was gone.... and she was back

> the cruel irony of it, the absurdity of it, she had to laugh

> she laughed with wild abandon like one of the Chaos beings she had left behind

> she briefly wished she could go mad, so she wouldn't have to remember

> but she couldn't

> her laughter turned into tears

> much later she lay in the snow desiring nothing more than death

> what was there left for her without her beloved Master?

> it was only then that she noticed it

> a fragment of one of Chaos Goddess' servant things

> it must have been blasted through the portal with her by some fluke of fate

> now it was making pathetic chirping noises and gradually shriveling up in the snow

> the harsh elements and rapid transition to a mundane plane were killing it

> for a moment she wanted to finish the job

> their people had always been at odds

> and if it hadn't been for the Chaos beings then her Master...

> but he had sacrificed himself to save beings just like this

> she couldn't dishonor his memory

> she gently picked the blob of slime up and held it close to herself to keep it warm

> "Come little one."


> it was a classic Kikimora dwelling

> built out of, and into, the landscape by a lone Kikimora's arts

> almost impossibly cozy

> perhaps even better hidden in the pines than most

> perhaps the residents desired privacy more than most

> an older Kikimora

> and a blob of slime

> "Are you ready, my little Echo?"

> the blob stretched and compressed itself in an excited dance, "reAdEE"

> the Kikimora laughed, "What a good helper you are!"


> years later the blob had grown

> and changed

> "Owies!"

> "Echo! Oh, let me see sweetie."

> the Kikimora cradled the amorphous facsimile of a little girl and examined the proffered digit

> "It's just a little burn. I'll kiss it and make it all better."

> "Tank ooo Mama."


> the girl's slimy feathers stirred dully in the wind

> "I'll be fine Mom."

> "Just be careful. Especially of fire! And disintegration beams. And Order magi-"

> the girl's palm hit her own forehead with a wet smack

> "I'm not going to run into an Axiomatic Archmage while collecting acorns, Mom."

> the Kikimora wrung her hands, "I just worry..."

> the girl wrapped her wet arms and tail around the Kikimora

> "I promise Mom. If I see even the slightest hint of danger I'll drop everything and come back."


> the Kikimora's face fell

> the young woman immediately regretted what she had said

> "I- I'm sorry Mom. I didn't mean that. I don't know why I'm so angry all the time. I just feel so... it's like..."

> "Like you're incomplete."

> "What?! How do you-"

> "You're a maid. And you're old enough. Let me tell you about Masters..."


> viscous tears streamed down the woman's face

> "Mommy! I don't want to go! I don't want to leave you! But I feel- I can't-"

> "There, there. I knew this day would come. Go and find your Master." she winked, "And come back to visit me with lots of grandbabies!"

> the two Kikimora laughed and hugged one last time

> one of flesh and fur and feather

> one of slime and chaos and change

> "I love you Mommy."


Optional True Ending

> The scenery of the Plane of Change might be in constant flux but The Goddess of the Final Mortal Change was impassive, "The prodigal daughter returns."

> "I'm not your daughter. My mother is Kalina Sweepmaster of the Seelie Court of the Frozen North. And I'm not here to stay. I'm just here to collect a debt and then I'll be on my way. Master said he can't keep the portal open indefinitely."

> "What could we possibly owe you?"

> "Not me. My Mother."

> the goddess' eyes widened in realization, "That is forbidden."

> "Hey!" the Shoggoth's feathers bristled and she stuck her finger in the goddess' face, "You owe her! If it wasn't for them you'd be a gibbering psychotic murderer!"

> for a moment the stern goddess' face clouded with anger at this impertinence

> but her expression swiftly turned to mirth

> soon she was laughing aloud and pounding the arm of her throne

> she pulled an odd green piece of paper out of her d├ęcolletage and held in in the air

> The Goddess of Fortune materialized, grabbed the paper with a "YOINK!", and vanished as quickly as she had appeared

> "She was right. The sheer heuvos on you." the goddess was still chuckling, "You two found that crazy thing, lost for even I forget how long, just so you could come here and make a demand of me on someone else's behalf!?"

> The goddess stood and gestured expansively "This is totally forbidden but you're right, we do owe her."

> She then gave Echo a conspiratorial wink, "Besides, how Chaotic would I be if I didn't break the rules every once in a while?"


> Kalina hummed to herself as she swept

> her ears perked up

> was that?

> she ran outside to see a young man wearing the regalia of a Journeyman Axiomatic Mage and-

> "ECHO!"

> The two women joyfully hugged each other

> "Oh, sweetie let me look at you, is this your Mast-" it was only then that she noticed the third figure

> she froze in shock

> moments later she was finally in her husband's arms again

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