Siteri moved the boulder aside with a word and a flick of her wrist, allowing the witch and her would-be apprentice to access the secret entrance to the fortress. In a bygone era, it had protected the pass into the holy city of Vandrei. Now it was a moldering ruin that people swore was haunted. No one had been near it in almost a generation. Had she not been to a dozen other such sites in the last two weeks, Talia would have likely still harbored doubts about entering. Instead, she stepped into the entry with purpose.
Ever since her life had changed for the worse with the revelation that she might be a witch from a bygone age, she had been looking for answers. Despite searching for clues in the ruins of witch settlements scattered through the valley, neither woman had any inkling of how Kyrstalia had become host to Kyrstarael's essence. It had to be a mistake. Talia had memories of a childhood with her adoptive parents. Nights of drifting off to sleep in the back of the wagon during trips to other monasteries, and stories around the campfire. The memories of her troubled adolescence were as sharp and painful as shattered glass. The idea that at all of those moments could be fabrications was too much for her to bear. She needed answers--demanded them even, which was why they were here. Siteri figured it was the next best place to look.
"Go ahead and put your hand to that sigil there," the older witch instructed. "Your energy should undo the lock."
"I'm not sure why mine..." but Talia put her hand to the cold stone anyway. There was a shock when she touched the smooth surface. After that, golden light spread from her palm throughout an ornate seal which stretched another foot above her. There was a rumble and the rock face split open, revealing a pair of hidden doors that swung inwards. She looked at Siteri, and the elder witch raised her eyebrows.
"What?" she replied. "You bear the power of witch nobility, so we might as well use it. Now come on..."
"Bah! I didn't think it would be so dusty in here," the Hearth Witch said as a small fragment of witch crystal embedded in her staff flickered to light. "Or so dark. I expected the power to come back on once the stronghold sensed us."
"No sense worrying about it now." Talia focused on the runes she had etched into her skin during the fight for survival against the witch crystal of Alannathea. She whispered the word for light, and a golden glow swelled into radiance from beneath her drab traveling attire.
The spell had become second nature for traversing darkness or keeping watch. Thinking about it, she was advancing quite rapidly with her spellcraft ability on all fronts. In the intervening weeks, her trials by fire had ensured she was now adept at handling her newfound talent--and her altered appearance, too.
The first thing she had done was get her body under control. After her full-body brush with pure witch energy, she had been lactating like a leaky dam. While she had been unable to resolve the mystery, the new witch had discovered that she would only swell with milk if she went too long without using magic. That would never be a problem while maintaining her first attempt at creating a spell.
It had taken some doing, but Talia had woven a few incantations into an enchantment which kept her absurd, witch-given bust bound tightly. The young witch looked like she had before all this started. Although it galled her to be excited about her head-sized troublemakers, the mammoth mams no longer filled her lap while sitting.
Further, thanks to the spell, they did not jostle while walking either. It was a sense of stillness which Talia had not experienced for the better part of ten years. Her expansive bust was still in the way, as would be the case with anything that occupied the vast majority of her torso, but they hardly weighed anything while enchanted. Even when filling up with milk, they did not gain any mass.
"Careful up here," Siteri said, putting her hand on Talia's arm and pulling her out of her thoughts. "There used to be mechanical sentries. The power might be out, but they could still be active."
That touch was part of the other challenge for Talia. In the time since they met, the burly witch's company had become very pleasant. Even so, it was hard for Talia to admit she liked the Hearth Witch as anything more than a friend. She had never been attracted to a woman before but chalked that up to inexperience.
More troubling was balancing the knowledge that Siteri was however many hundreds of years old and yet looked like she might as well be in her forties for how much that age showed. Even without that, Siteri being in her forties meant she was twice as old at Talia.
Still, it was hard to ignore how her heart skipped a beat when they were close, but how much of that was her and not her past? Talia had tried to coax answers out of Siteri about what the Gellen Witch had been like in the past, and what her relationship had been with Krystereal.
Siteri insisted Talia was a new person who could make her own decisions.
That answer felt like a dodge, especially since Talia had caught Siteri staring at her with a resigned expression on her face more than once. The older witch still had feelings for her long lost friend, and from the memories which Talia had experienced, the emotion had been mutual.
The passage opened up into a vast, two-level rotunda. Cobwebs coated the upper balcony including the imposing looking gargoyles. Seven other passageways faded into darkness in the other compass directions. On the floor, under the dust, was an emblem of a dragon in flight that tugged at Talia's memories. History said the symbol of a dragon with spread wings belonged to The Sorceress of Vandrei.
Was that who she had been, the ruler of the Southern Province? The conclusion jived with the snatches of memory she had gotten from the witches trapped in the crystal of Alannathea. The woman with her face from the past had been pleading with others to abandon their ambition to revive the Goddess. It also explained the holy city's destruction ages ago. If there had been a war, and she had been leading one side, of course, her enemies would have besieged her city.
Lips pursed, she strode to the center of the sigil and clapped her hands together. Kneeling, she pressed her hands to the floor. She expected energy to flow out of her and into the dragon, as it had with the door, but nothing happened.
"Your sister was Queen, Talia. Not you."
"Krystereal's sister was the Sorceress of Vandrei. Your past lies with, well, the black sheep of the family."
"Wait, are you saying?"
Siteri went to speak when there was a loud bang. A chittering sound came from one of the other passageways, like the clatter of giant spider legs. It grew louder until it sounded like it was coming from everywhere. There was an explosion of purple light, and when they could see again, someone wielding two blades had each of them at sword point. The steel crackled with purple lighting which kept lightly shocking them.
Their face was hidden behind a mask, though their black eyes were visible through the slit. When they spoke, it was in broken phrases, as if they had not fully learned the language. A necklace of purple stone wrapped in metal hung around their neck.
"Why you two cows here, huh? What you come for?"
"We're looking for something," Siteri answered. "That's all."
Talia chanted under her breath and hoped she would finish the spell in time.
"Looking for th'bounty on Elvira's head no doubt--bounty to return the shiny. If that be the case, prepare for trouble."
She dove at them, but the blades bounced off of an invisible barrier as Talia finished chanting. Blown back, their assailant's mask and swords clattered to the floor. Talia finally got a good look at them.
Their attacker, likely Elvira or an associate, was a mess. Their dark eyes were bloodshot like they had not slept in days. Drool leaked from one corner of their mouth. Short hair the color of falling snow was matted to either side of their face. As they staggered to their feet, Talia noticed pointed ears under their rat's nest. She and Siteri were dealing with a dark elf.
"Witches! Oh, day is getting so much better for Elvira. She is going to be so rich!" The elf reached up and ripped off their sleeves, revealing wicked looking brands on either shoulder. Pressing her hands to them, the elf who was presumably Elvira started to glow. Energy crackled around her, visibly arching as she pulled her hands away and took a combat stance.
Siteri moved first, swinging with her staff. The fragment of crystal in the wooden pole seemed to burst as it got close to the strange elf, leaving the end splintered and charred. Even so, the impact sent their opponent sprawling in the dust once more.
The runes down Talia's arm ignited red as she cursed and flung fire. The elf frantically batted away the flames with her lightning-wreathed hands and then scrambled to her feet. She rushed at the witches, arms wide as if tackle one of them with her crackling grasp. She grazed both of them when they tried to dodge. When she wheeled about, there was a maniac grin on her face and an apple-sized shard of witch crystal in each hand. The stone in her necklace began to glow.
The golden light of the witch fragments flickered and then changed to a purple hue, their luminescence growing darker and eerier. The elf released them and they rose to float next to her ears. When her eyes started to glow the same color, she began to laugh.
"Oh, so good, you two are. So full of the Goddess and your sisters," her voice had deepened. At the same time, a second higher register spoke along with her. "She can't wait to devour you both. You'll be so filling for her!"
With that, she lunged again. Her movements were faster this time, and she had closed the gap before either witch could brace for impact. Her palm struck Siteri in the stomach and Talia on her chest. Shocks ran through her bodies as the dark energy arched over it.
Heat rose at the impact sites as a pull began to take hold of Talia. It felt like the elf's hand was beckoning several somethings under her skin. Slowly a single massive shard rose from her chest. The faces were jagged and sharp as if it were made several other crystals forcibly fused.
The elf's energy arced to the shard. White hot cracks began to form. The moment the mass of gemstone slipped free rose from Talia's skin, it shattered. The pieces first fell to the ground, like glassy rain, only to rise and then float in the air around the trio of women.
Stone by stone, each stolen piece of power went dark like the others and began to orbit them. As the elf's laugh became shrill, the whirl of stolen crystals became a howling vortex. There was a flash, and the swarm of gemstone had formed into a crystalline mask and crown, obscuring the elf's face, which is when she released them.
The Talia which hit the floor was a dramatically different woman. She was thinner than she had ever been. At first, she was so frail looking it was like she had aged a hundred years, but her flesh slowly filled back out. Even so, her chest remained relatively flat and she was not sure how to feel about that. The runes from her previous battle glimmered but did not glow. The only light came from the shards the elf had stolen.
Talia looked up and could only stare open-mouthed at the woman floating a foot in the air before them like a bright star in the night sky. Her clothes had been torn away, leaving her stone gray flesh exposed. Some of the shards marking her face fell to her skin, embedding into her body.
Her figure swelled as her belly, arms, and legs thickened with doughy curves, a change which was even more noticeable as her frame began to grow shorter. As she lost height, those inches migrated to her bust. Her flat chest inflated rapidly, her boobs each ballooning into enormous tear-drops that settled on her round abdomen. A dense network of veins was visible under the elf's pale skin, giving her flesh a newfound blush of color.
A sibilant whisper filled the air as the tips of four tails grew into view over her shoulders and around her still widening hips. Four squarish shaped stones sank into them, giving the new appendages wide fin-like ends. Her face was obscured by the mass of darkened crystal she had extracted from the witches. One gem floating in the middle seemed to burn brighter than the others. Several others, further down, began to shimmer until it became apparent they were standing in for eyes.
"Ah, thank you my lovelies," the voice was like one hundred. "It feels so much better to be me and not that pitiful mortal husk. Only a little more now and then I will deal with you."
There was an audible gurgling noise as the strange woman's fattened body pulsed ever larger. The elf's already massive tits crept down the curve of her stomach, spreading wider as they grew past her waist and towards her hips. Talia could not help but notice how fat her nipples had become, their thickness rivaling the face of a silver coin. Her hips surged outwards, pumping ever larger with jiggling flesh.
Finally, she made a shuddering noise, and the gurgling ceased. Her endowments were truly massive now. Even laying over her thick tummy, they still hung to her hips and peaked a considerable distance in front of her. Most of their heavy-looking curve was covered by deep purple areolae that curved up from the lighter flesh. Talia could not believe anyone had ever looked more like a fertility idol.
"Now, to business. I figured you would eventually arrive here, Krystereal."
"Did you not come to slay me, my sister, once you heard of my escape?" The strange woman asked. "At the very least, will you attempt to return me to my prison once more, yes?"
"I don't know what you're talking about..." Talia felt weak; her eyes kept drifting shut even as her mind raced.
"Have you forgotten what you did to the rest of us while you lived a life in the world? Do you not recall casting the spell that ended an age?"
"That wasn't me! I mean, maybe it was, but – I don't know. Who am I? Who are you? Why is this happening?"
The exceedingly lush elf chuckled and leaned forward to float on her stomach. While the mass of plush flesh spread outwards like she was on something solid, her pendulous boobs hung to a point as far from the floor as her toes had been a moment ago. They seemed to squirm as she slowly wiggled her fattened ass back and forth.
She clicked her teeth. "Oh, that'll never do," she said before two shards floated down from the mask and sank into her boobs with a ripple. At once hey began to rise and fill out, their oblong shape retracting to something more spherical. The new form only accentuated her raised areolae, making them look even fatter as they swallowed her thick nipples. Talia felt like the elf looked even more absurd now, though she could not pull her gaze away either.
"You mean to say you've forgotten your flesh and blood, Krystereal? I'm hurt."
"She's lying," gasped Siteri. "She is no kin of yours. That is Y'hquezt of Darkening Crystal."
"Oh, Siteri! I didn't see you there."
Siteri had also shrunk down, though she seemed to be taking it harder than Talia. Her blue braid had bleached white, and her face was drooping a little. She looked much more like a grandmother now. The elf picked up the Hearth Witch with two of her tails. Lifting her by her shoulders. "You're looking well, considering."
Siteri spat. "I should have killed you."
"But you didn't--and now? I'm free." She tossed Siteri into Talia. Talia swore she felt and heard bones breaking, but Siteri made no groans of pain. Y'hquezt floated down until she was inches from Talia. She licked pitch black lips so plump they looked like they would burst and then laughed, flashing a mouthful of pointed teeth.
"Look at you, the Goddess's chosen. Reduced to a sniveling little girl in clothes far too big for her. How does it feel to be stripped of your endowed power, Krystereal?"
She should have been scared out of her mind, but Talia felt exceedingly calm. "I don't feel anything. I had always hated my figure and becoming a witch had only exacerbated the issue. I might be just a normal woman now, but I'm kind of okay with that."
"You're 'kind of okay' with not being special anymore? 'Kind of okay' with not being able to stop me from becoming the Goddess? What kind of answer is 'kind of okay'?"
"An honest one. If I had to choose between power and being a reasonable size. I'd take being a reasonable size."
Siteri groaned in her lap. "What are you even saying? I thought you wanted to be a witch?"
"I thought it would let me deal with being physically outstanding, but all it did was further my outlandish shape. Still..." She looked down at her arms, riddled with curved emblems tattooed into her skin. Would their draining effect still work? "I can't abide the idea of someone stealing something from me either! That power is mine, dammit!"
She reached out and grabbed hold of the center-most eye-gem. Her runes flared blue as purple lightning crackled all around. Y'hquezt tried to pull away, but Talia's grasp held. Tails wrapped around her wrists, attempting to crush them.
Just as her grip started to weaken, the gem snapped in half and pulled free of the elf's orbit. For a moment Y'hquezt's face was visible, her purple eyes burning with malice, and then the other shards closed ranks and pushed Talia's hands aside.
Freed from Y'hquezt's darkening influence, the gemstone fragments glowed golden once more. Both pyramid-shaped shards sank into Talia's palms, and power surged through her. The now familiar tang of magic in her veins was intoxicating. Even as she felt her body slide against her clothes as it regained some of its curves, she was excited to have some amount of her power back.
With a quick curse, she flung a blast of energy at her foe, knocking several more shards loose from her floating crown to send them skittering over the dusty floor. Y'hquezt responded with flicks of her tails, the crystal points cutting the air. Talia dodged most of them, but a backswing from one sent her flying.
Landing on her back, she felt the loose shards sink into her. Almost at once, her bust regrew to what had been her peak size, each boob swelling well past a handful. She cursed her ancient self and whatever she had done to make the growth happen. Talia worked fast to recast the binding spell and then rolled to her feet.
In the time it took Talia to get up, Y'hquezt had snaked her tails around Siteri. Her coils were tightening around the Hearth Witch. "Pitiful, Krystereal. Truly pitiful. Did you think you could resist when I have a hostage?"
The elf began to laugh once more, flashing her fangs. Her gemstone eyes danced with the vibrations of her mirth and her rotund body jiggled from head to toe. She seemed so assured of her victory. Something about the display made Talia angry.
Yelling a curse that came to mind, she fired a beam of bright yellow energy from her palm. Not at the evil witch, but at the gargoyle behind her. The wave of magical force washed over the stone statue and a good portion of the second floor behind it.
There was a grinding noise as runes like those on her arms burst into life on the statue. Yellow light flowed out from there, lighting a zigzagging network of energy lines. Soon a second gargoyle began to stir. And a third. The trio dropped to the floor, kicking up the dust and making small craters as they did so.
Surprised by their arrival, Y'hquezt dropped Siteri.
Talia dove to catch the frail-looking witch and then ran as fast as she could.
An hour later, Talia could still hear Y'hquezt searching for them. The elf was singing a song as she moved from room to room in another wing of the stronghold. The words were inscrutable, but the tone was eerie and chilling. Talia hoped their luck at avoiding her held until they could escape.
Siteri was not well. Losing her magic was seemingly responsible for slowly aging the witch's body to match the years she had lived. She already looked like skin and bones. Talia worried that the next time she blinked, the Hearth Witch would become just more dust in the ruins. As they lay there in the dark, she tried to give some of her power to her friend, but Siteri had refused.
"You're going to need every ounce of strength to defeat The Darkened Crystal. Even if you gave me an equal share, we still wouldn't be a match at barely a quarters' strength."
"I don't want to lose you though. I can't take on this mystery alone."
"You found yourself before. I have faith you can do it again."
"That wasn't me. Why do all of you keep thinking I'm someone from the past?"
"Krystereal , I-"
"No!" She was on her feet, her runes burning. "My name is Talia and I want answers right now. What makes you so sure I'm her?"
"That you can hear the song of the witch crystals is-"
"Not an answer. You can hear the song, too."
Siteri laughed, which turned into coughing. When she pulled her hand away, it was stained with blood. "Just...trust me that you are, somehow, the greatest witch in an age."
"How can that be? I can't even save the one person important to me."
Siteri looked defeated and Talia's shoulder drooped. She was just about to settle back down and wait out her friend's last moments when she heard something. The sound of chimes. The volume of Y'hquezt's song spiked suddenly. From around the corner, there were hints of her ghostly purple glow. Pursing her lips, Talia lifted Siteri on her back and moved towards what she hoped was the source of the other faint song.
"This isn't the way out..."
"No, but it feels like the right way to go."
Y'hquezt's creepy words hung in the air behind her, but Talia was drawn by snatches of another song. One that was familiar and welcoming. The hall they were following ended with a locked door made of steel. Glancing over her shoulder, the way back was flooded with eerie light. She crushed the lock in her hands and opened the door. A winding staircase down was all she saw, but it was their only option at this point. Pulling the door closed behind her, Talia do what she could to fuse the door to the stone before continuing down into the depths of the stronghold.
The sounds of Y'hquezt trying to follow echoed down the passageway for a long time before it stopped. All the while, a soothing song, much like that of the witch crystals grew stronger. After what felt like a lifetime of going down and past landings with barred doors, with only Siteri's weakening breathing for company, the curve of the stairs became illuminated by the familiar golden light.
Stepping onto the last landing, the pair of witches found themselves faced with a gemstone easily twice as big as either of them. It was not witch crystal either, but an actual divine shard.
The song grew exultant as Talia carried Siteri to the shard and put the elder witch's hand to the gemstone's surface. The Hearth Witch drew a shuddering breath, but did not cough. Tendrils of energy wrapped around both women as the sound of chimes became a storm.
Up above, there was an explosion and suddenly Y'hquezt's song clashed with the stone's.
"She's going to take the shard," Siteri said weakly.
"Not if we take it first," Talia snapped back. How was the question. Even the shards she had broken off of the crystal pillar in Alannathea had only been a foot in length at most – and those had been witch crystal. This was a piece of the Goddess. How could one person contain so much power and not burn up?
"Krystereal ..." The voice that spoke was neither Siteri or Y'hquezt. Talia looked around for who else could have called for her other self. There was a loud bang, like the sound of a gong being struck and a ghostly form walked out of the crystal. The figure turned and Talia was hit with a wave of unexpected sorrow.
The apparition was a woman, with a face similar to Talia's own. Her build was less generous, but she was definitely more full-figured than most. A cascade of white hair hung like a veil of curls around her shoulders. Her expression was somewhere between resigned and sad, like the face one makes at a funeral.
"So you've come for what remains of me...I am...unsure how to feel about this." It felt like time slowed down as the specter spoke. Her words rung with the chime of the crystals.
"Come for you? Wait, hang on. Full stop. You're The Sorceress of Vandrei."
"You speak the truth. I am Jemenii of Vandrei, Star of the South and you are my sister, Krystereal of Vandrei, the Covenbreaker...or what remains of her at least."
The ghost put her hand on her curved hip. "How did you escape the rule of three, sister dear? I figured you would be imprisoned until the world ended for the doom you placed upon the rest of us."
"I don't know either really and that's really starting to irritate me."
Siteri coughed and the sisters turned to look at her. Jemenii rushed to her side and put her hand on her forehead.
"How did she come to be this way?" she asked, turning to look at Talia. "How could you let this happen?"
"We were attacked by another ghost of Krystereal 's past. The dark witch Y'hquezt. She sucked the shards of witch crystal right out of us."
"Y'hquezt is free? Is our sentence ending?"
"That might be the case. There's certainly a lot of the past coming to life again. Whatever the reason, she's coming down here."
A shrill noise crashed over them. It had to be the elf's song, clashing with the temporal pocket created by...wait, how did she know that? Her head throbbed and Talia dropped to her knees as memories bubbled up and exploded in her mind.
She was standing in a room at the top of a tower, looking out at the valley. Jemenii was speaking with her.
[You can't trust her, Talia, Quez't is only looking for power.]
[She just wants to find the lost pieces of the Goddess. Isn't that a noble goal?]
[Those fragments are better left lost. There are enough witches in the world as it is.]
[That's unfair, Jem. The Goddess shattered herself so that she could be with us all. To view the world through our eyes, to feel life through our bodies.]
[Is that why you've gone so far? Your body is so perverse now, sister. I don't even know how you can live with such massive breasts.]
[I carry six shards in my soul, it was bound to happen.]
[Six?! Talia, that's suicide! I'm surprised you aren't flying apart at the seams!]
[It was the only way I could think of getting them back to the surface. Besides, the Goddess will protect me. I hear her now, sister. She whispers in my ear.]
[Encourages you to find the other shards?]
[Something like that. Oh did I show you...]
She was back in the chamber at the bottom of the stairs. Jemenii's ghost was fighting Y'hquezt, keeping her trapped in another of her time distortions. Siteri had staggered to her feet, though she still looked quite old and frail. As Talia moved towards her, the battle between her sister and her rival ended explosively. Unsure what else to do, she pushed Siteri into the crystal and stepped into a double-fisted blow to keep the elf from touching the fragment with her taint.
Jemenii staggered to her feet. Her appearance was flickering and fractured.
"Go home, sister," Talia yelled as she pushed the dark witch back. "Return to the crystal. Keep Siteri safe! I will atone for my mistakes."
"Easier said than done, little girl."
Y'hquezt chomped down on her shoulder and the world went white. Dropping to one knee, she focused more energy into pushing the elf away. The sound of chimes washed over her. There was a feeling of someone's hand on her shoulder. Jemenii's voiced echoed in her ears.
[I forgive you, Krystereal . I know now you just wanted to discover, to learn. Others took advantage of that and forced you to make a terrible decision. So fight and make things right!]
With a surge of strength, Talia shook the elf's fangs off and pushed her back with a wall of magic. The bite sizzled, but was slowly healing. For a moment all was still as she felt energy of the shard behind her infuse her. Power flowed through her veins as the song of Goddess soared in her ears.
Like when she first became a witch again, she grew. As her bust increased, so did her stature and it soon felt like she was nearly to the ceiling. She put her hand to her chest and took a deep breath. It felt like something slid into her grasp. The handle to a weapon perhaps?
Exhaling as she withdrew her hand, her breath was eclipsed by the steely sound of a broadsword being drawn. The blade sparkled and shimmered in blues and golds. It felt great in her hand. The weight was just perfect. She realized idly that her bust had shrunk dramatically. Was this what all that magic being stored was for?
The dark witch was getting up. Her tails lifting her off the ground. She grinned broadly, as if amused. "Really? That sword? That fact that you can draw it is proof of who you are!"
"Don't care, going to kill you now."
Bolts of lightning flashed across the room, blasting holes in the floor, walls, and ceiling. However, they bounced off the glowing blade of her weapon and she advanced towards her foe. Y'hquezt's attacks grew more frantic as she backed up the stairs. She tried to attack the crystal, but Talia was always there to stop the blast.
Finally, she screamed. "This is not over, Krystereal . When next we meet, I shall be more powerful that you can imagine. That is...if we meet again."
Her tails lashed out and cut into the stairwell. There was a rumble as the stonework came tumbling down and Talia retreated to the shard. It seemed like the whole place was going to come down. Faced with no other choice, she pressed her hand to the shard and slid into it.
The space inside the crystal was warm. A wide open field over rolling hills dotted with sunflowers spread out before her. Clouds floated above in the bluest skies. Siteri and Jemenii were sitting on a rise not too far away. Talia dropped the sword and it faded away before hitting the knee-length grass. Her bust line began to creep outwards once more. It probably would not be long before her boobs were back to the size they were before the day went completely off the rails. The feeling of them growing was more pleasant than she remembered, as if the realization that her absurd size served a purpose had made them less of a burden.
As she approached the others, Siteri was on her back with her eyes closed. She was breathing peacefully, but it was obvious that she was not simply resting. Jemenii was no longer ghostly, but a living breathing person. She rose and embraced Talia.
"She's fading fast. You might want to say goodb-"
"What? Why?" Jemenii stepped back and the air crackled around her.
"Hear me out. I haven't even gotten to know her and yet, I can feel my heart breaking. So I refuse to simply let her die. I want to get to know her. I want to come to love her the way she does me – and you can help me. Use your time magic. Rewind her life."
"That is not how it works, Talia. Even if it did, the her I would go back to will not be the Siteri you know. That Siteri might not even know who you are. She might not love you."
"What if you had more power? Could you do something?"
"It's possible," she said, rubbing her arm. "But I'm not sue what."
Talia focused on the shards within and found the fragment of the divine that had resided in Siteri before. She pushed it out of her body to float over her palm. It was about as wide as a blade of grass and a couple inches long. "Here, use this then."
"I will not absorb any more fragments of the divine than the one I received as part of our initiation, nor will I utilize power from the souls of my imprisoned sisters. I have no interest in being you, Talia."
"And yet you're keeping yourself alive in the largest fragment of the divine I have ever seen!"
Jemenii glanced away. When I knew that you were going to cast the spell to stop "Y'hquezt, I took shelter with others of my council. Many have left, I alone remain to stand watch over this precious fragment."
"Okay, so all that about being imprisoned was...?"
"A lie, yes, but a necessary one."
"We'll deal with that later. I am going to return this shard of the divine to Siteri. It should stabilize her enough for you to attempt to restore her."
"I cannot promise that won't have side effects."
"At this point, I don't care. Make it happen."
Jem nodded and Talia knelt next to Siteri. He floated the shard over her friend's body and then gently pushed it into her skin. Her eyes snapped open and Jem put her hands on the Hearth Witch's chest.
"Live again, dearest love. Find the strength to return to us."
Siteri's body jumped off the ground and floated in the air between the sister witches. Her hallowed look reversed as her body regained mass. It seemed like everything was going to turn out alright.
Then there was a nova of energy.
Siteri's frame stretched taller and wider, easily putting her over six feet tall. Muscles from before grew larger and more defined, each of them straining her clothes until seams began to fail. Her bust quickly grew to a size that covered her ribs and forced her shirt to tear open, which only facilitated further expansion as they swelled towards her waist. The long blue braid became a pair instead, making the Hearth Witch look a little more youthful – easily the same age as Talia.
The pair of witches scrambled back as Siteri settled back to earth. Up close, she seemed even bigger. Talia wondered if the spell had somehow taken Hearth Witch further than before. She certainly could believe this woman was strong enough to build a stone house by hand – alone. There was still that feeling her being older, but it had softened a little or perhaps Talia's perception of her own age had changed.
Siteri blinked and sat up. "Krystereal ? Jemenii? What happened? Where are we?"
Talia lept forward and threw her arms around Siteri's muscular neck. "You're okay!"
"Of course I am. I have to be to keep you two safe." She got to her feet and while there was not much difference in height after two growth spurts of her own. Talia felt small standing next to her revived friend.
"Okay, what's next then, Krystereal ?" Jem asked. "What other thing are you going to do to subvert the natural order of things?"
"We get out of the stronghold and make our way to Wisteria. Illuna of the White should know what has happened."
"We?" Jem looked confused.
"Yes, we. I am going to need all the help I can get to prevent Y'hquezt from achieving her goal to become the Goddess. Now...how do we get out of here?" (5976)