Any monster other than that. Gods, any daelkyr-spawn other than that. Mind flayers, tsochari who wore living beings like clothes, tainted beasts from the Far Realm; any of those, Stheno could face and fight. But a hive….
“Lady Stheno?” Still unsteady on her feet, Argo dug her nails into tree bark to stay upright. “What’s wrong? What can I do to help?”
Nothing. There’s nothing you can do, Stheno thought, frozen in terror. She’d thought this nightmare extinguished centuries ago. Thought she’d never have to face the scents of paper and acid again, hear the buzz and the helpless pleas of prisoners begging to die, feel the alien flesh writhe, infesting her own-
A small hand touched hers.
A gray winter’s day unrolled in Stheno’s mind’s eye, soft white blanketing the horrific images into a silent, immobile landscape.
:Snow. Softness falling. Quiet….:
Stheno breathed as if she’d never tasted the garden’s air, looking down at Yui. “You shouldn’t see those memories, little one.” And wasn’t it amazing that she could hear her own voice? Back then, it’d been worn to a rasp from screaming…. “They’re too horrible.”
“I won’t look.” Yui shivered. “I just don’t want Aunt Stheno to hurt so much.”
“Aunt Stheno?” Argo murmured, eyes wide. “A nestling? I thought they were all… seeing memories?” She frowned, and eyed Stheno. “You’ve dealt with psiwasps before.”
“I have.” Gods; even now her voice was wobbly. “They aren’t like mind flayers. They don’t… infest and turn a body. They just,” oh powers, just, “use live sentients to… incubate their brood.” Her smile felt ghastly. She hoped Yui wasn’t looking at it. “For most individuals, the damage one brood does is enough to kill them.”
“So we have to get Fuurinkazan out fast,” Argo started.
Stheno shuddered, trying not to curl into a helpless ball. “I….” I can’t go near them. I can’t.
Still holding her hand, Yui almost shrank away. “Aunt Stheno was in a nest once. They hurt her.”
“People get hurt in fights-” Argo cut herself off, and looked faintly green. “You said… one brood kills most people.” The information broker gulped. “But you’re immortal. You heal.”
A/N: In case anyone missed it, Kayaba is a… well, you already know. 😉