There was an unpleasant fuzz in my brain when I woke up, sore from head to toe. I immediately felt the bruised ribs, sprained ankle and busted wrist, and I was pretty sure I had a black eye. Other than that, I was alive- even if it hurt to breathe. Pulling myself up onto my knees, I managed to fish a large stick out from the flowers I had landed on and pulled myself to my feet, leaning on the stick so as to not put all that pressure on my bad ankle- and it was my right foot, too. "Great," I sighed. "Of all the times I actually need help, and my phone is at the top of that hole in the ceiling. Mum's gonna kill my ass…"
Deciding there was no other way out, I decided to start walking through this underground cave- maybe there was something I could use to make shelter for the night- someone would surely come looking for me in the morning, so it was best to just sit tight and wait for rescue. For now, though, I was hungry, and I prayed there was something to eat here- all my food was in my backpack, still up there on the surface. It was rather dim down here, I noted, but there was evidence of people having lived here- I passed through carved archways, bearing a winged crest. Of all the times I wished I had my camera.
Soon, I came to a dark place, where a thin shaft of sunlight fell on a patch of yellow flowers. I rarely knew that flowers could grow underground, so seeing more of them here was surprising. Some kind of ranunculus, judging by their bright yellow colour. Strange, though- why would there be flowers in such a dark place? What was stranger was that one looked to be…smiling?
"Howdy!" It said. "I'm Flowey! Flowey the Flower!"
I just blinked at it dumbly. "Er…hi? I guess?"
The flower, Flowey, looked me over curiously, and I thought I saw an unsettling gleam in one of its almost cartoonish eyes as it spied my injuries. "Hmm, you're new to the Underground, aren'tcha?" It asked. "Golly, you must be so confused!"
"That's one way to put it…" By now, I was considering just walking past this weird flower, but I wanted to mark it up to the pain making me delirious.
"You know, somebody really oughta teach you how things work around here!" Flowey gestured to himself with one of his leaves. "I suppose little old me's gonna have to do. Ready? Here we go!"
Suddenly, there was a tugging feeling in my chest as a glowing red light shot out of it and took on a heart-shape. Flowey explained that this was the manifestation of my SOUL, and that my SOUL could grow stronger if I gained LV- which, according to this weird plant, meant LOVE. He tried to 'share' some of his with me through pellets that looked vaguely like bullets, and I sidestepped each and every one of them. There's a term for people like this: suss as fuck, as in I suspected that this flower was full of shit.
However, that just made him angry, and his face took on a more monstrous look. "You know what's going on here, don't you?" He hissed. "You just wanted to see me suffer…"
Then, before I could make an excuse, I was surrounded by these bullets, and I wouldn't be able to get around them if I tried with these injuries. "DIE." Flowey cackled as the bullets closed in, and I braced myself for impact- when a ball of white flame knocked him away, and the bullets disappeared. With Flowey gone, I opened my eyes to find another creature standing before me, tall and vaguely goat-like, wearing a purple dress with that winged crest on the bodice. She looked at me worriedly.
"What an awful creature, picking on a poor, defenceless youth…" She held out her hand- it was large and covered in white fur, her fingertips ending in claws that were kept blunted. "Are you alright, my child?" I tried to cradle the stick in the crook of my bad arm so I could shake her hand, but I slipped and fell forward with a pained cry- I would have face-planted on the floor had this creature not caught me. "Oh dear- poor thing, you're hurt!" She smoothed a hand over my hair. "My name is Toriel. What's yours?"
I blacked out before I could tell her. The pain was too much to bear- it hurt to breathe at this point. I felt Toriel picking me up off the ground and carrying me off, but I had no idea where. I was so out of it at the time that I couldn't open my eyes, or manage to say anything other than an incoherent mumble. Bloody hell, this sucked. First I fell down a huge hole and managed to escape with my life, only to nearly get killed by a fucking flower, and now I was getting carried off to god-knows-where by a giant goat lady. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. Yeah, I told myself. Maybe there'll be an evil Red Queen, and a Mad Hatter while we're at it.
I eventually came to, and found myself tucked into a bed with my wrist and ankle bandaged up. My ribs still hurt, but I was thankful to be somewhere safe. There was a note beside the bed, and I reached over with my good hand to pick it up. "My child," it read, "I hope you are feeling better- there is a walking stick beside the bed, should you need it. I have gone to gather a few things, and I should be home soon. -Toriel." There was no time written down on the paper, and without knowing that, I supposed Toriel would be home now, if not shortly. It took a bit of doing, but I managed to sit myself up, and pulled back the blankets a bit to take a look at my ankle. An angry, dark violet bruise had formed and was peeking out from under the bandages. I guessed Toriel must have taken the time to ice the sprain before the swelling got any worse, then splinted and dressed it- I'd have to thank her later now that I was more coherent. Using the walking stick, I managed to get my feet on the ground, trying not to put too much weight on my bad foot. Getting downstairs was a challenge, but I got to the bottom well enough when I wasn't being distracted by the warm smell of something baking. It smelled like cinnamon and...butterscotch?
Toriel walked out of the kitchen just as I came into the living room. She towered over me, but she held the warm aura of a mother which blunted the intimidating difference in height. She smiled. "My child, what are you doing out of bed?" She asked, the corners of her muzzle curling upwards. "Your injuries looked quite painful, so I healed them as best I could- the rest will heal with time."
I gave a respectful bow of my head. "I wanted to thank you for that. I'm sorry I didn't get to tell you my name earlier- I'm Elizabeth, or just 'Liz' for short.”
"What a lovely name." Toriel led me over to the table and helped me to sit down. "Now, let me make us some tea and fix us both a slice of pie, and you can tell me all about yourself."
I would spend my recovery with Toriel, and in that time I had come to the sobering conclusion that no one was coming to find me. I didn't blame them- the legends all said that whoever went up Mt. Ebott never returned, and I guess now I know why. One photograph of the hole all the monsters were supposedly forced into thousands of years ago and a few other nature shots for an art project, and that would have been it. If only my foot hadn't gotten snagged on that root. Now I was down here, more than likely completely unable to go home. I worried for my cat. My mother was staying over, so I was sure my cat would be okay- I missed the furball. I had refused to let Toriel wash my jacket since it smelled like Mum's perfume and had my cat's fluff stuck to it. The longer I was here, the more I wanted to go home. I wanted my Mum- as lovely as Toriel was, she couldn't replace my real family.
And so it was with a heavy heart that, halfway through the third week of my stay, I sat down and asked her how I could get home. "What?" She looked confused, and slightly hurt. "But, this is your home."
"Toriel, we both know I don't belong here." I chose my words carefully. "I'm not trying to be ungrateful- I owe you everything for coming to my rescue, but I have a family up there on the surface, and they must be very worried about me. My friends will be missing me terribly. It would be cruel of both of us to put them through that pain."
Toriel's expression sobered, and she set her book aside as she stood up. "...I have to do something. Stay here." She left the room, not even looking at me. With a sigh, I got up and ran after her, going down the stairs into a tunnel I'd found a few days ago. She was standing there when I got to the bottom of the stairs, and looked back at me coldly. "You wish to know how to return 'home', do you not?" She gestured ahead into the darkness. "Ahead of us lies the end of the ruins, a one-way exit to the rest of the Underground." She took a deep breath. "I am going to destroy it. No one will be able to leave again." She turned away. "Now, be a good child and go upstairs." She walked off again, my pleas for her to stop and listen to me falling on deaf ears.
"How is hiding in these ruins going to change anything?!" I snapped. "Even you should be able to see that this isn't the right thing to do!"
"Every human that falls down here meets the same fate," Toriel rebutted, raising her voice. "I have seen it again and again- they come, they leave, and they die." She looked down at me, her crimson eyes hardening. "You naïve child- if you leave the ruins, they...ASGORE...will kill you." She looked away again. "I am only protecting you, do you understand? Now go to your room."
Though her concern was genuine and quite rational, I wouldn't have this woman talk down to me when I was already an adult and capable of making my own decisions. I continued to follow her, trying to make her listen to reason, until we came to a door bearing the winged crest I had seen around these ruins. Toriel turned to me once more, folding her hands. "Do not try to stop me- this is your last warning."
"Or what?" I scowled. "You'll ground me? You're already about to trap me here anyway!"
There was a tense silence between the two of us. "You want to leave so badly, then?" Toriel genuinely looked hurt, balling her hands into fists. "You are just like the others. There's only one solution to this..." She raised her hands, and two balls of flame became manifest in her palm, burning brightly. "Prove yourself- prove to me you are strong enough to survive!"
My soul glowed brightly, taking its form, and I could feel it beating softly as I stood my ground, dodging torrents of flame as they came at me and dancing around fireballs. A few got lucky and left burns that stung horribly, but I refused to fight back. Toriel showed no sign of holding back, and it started to become more difficult to avoid getting burnt, but soon her attacks wouldn't touch me. Pulling myself up off my knees, I managed to square my shoulders and stare her down. "Toriel, listen to me. Please."
She looked at me, confused and obviously upset. "What are you doing...?" Her attacks were intentionally dodging me as I walked closer to her.
"I know you want to protect me. I know you must have been lonely these many years- but imprisoning me here and saying that you're acting in my best interests won't remedy that. That's not kindness, it's selfishness- and you know it." I was close enough to hold her hand, and I held it gently, relaxing my expression- we were both tired now, and Toriel could see my injuries- injuries she knew she caused. I looked her in the eyes. "What humans have done to monsters must be undone, it's true, and even if I must face Asgore, even if I may fall, that's a risk I have to take. I'm going to make this right, one way or another, that's my choice. What will yours be?"
Tears welled up in her crimson orbs, and the flame in the hand I hadn't been holding flickered out. "Oh, my child...!" Toriel cupped my face, looking at the burns she'd caused. I could see it in her face- I'd failed to show her I was strong enough to survive. She smiled sadly. "I know you want to go home, but...but please, go upstairs now."
I sighed. "Toriel..."
"I promise I will take good care of you here. I know we don't have much, but..." Her voice was starting to crack. "We can have a good life here."
I shook my head sadly. "There's nothing for me down here." My tone was soft, but firm.
She sighed and closed her eyes. "Why are you making this so difficult?" Her hands went to my shoulders. "Please, just go upstairs." I just stared her down. It was becoming obvious that I wasn't going to budge, and we stood there in silence for a long time. Eventually, Toriel let go of my shoulders and laughed bitterly to herself. "...pathetic, is it not?" She sighed. "I cannot save even a single child." I was about to reply, but she shook her head. "No, I understand. You would just be unhappy trapped down here. The Ruins are very small once you get used to them. It would not be right for you to spend the rest of your days in a place like this." She looked at me, then. "You're right, you know; My expectations, my loneliness...my fear. For you, my child, I will put them aside."
I was speechless for some reason as I watched her walk towards the huge stone door. "If you truly wish to leave the Ruins, then I will not stop you." She waved her hand, and the doors creaked open, revealing a vast corridor ahead, then turned back to me. "However, when you leave...please, do not come back. I hope you understand." I was completely robbed of anything to say. I knew I had hurt her. I wanted to say I was sorry, and maybe convince her to come with me, but I couldn't. She knelt and wrapped her arms around me, holding me tightly for a moment, and then she let go and smiled sadly down at me. "Goodbye, my child." And with that, she walked right past me, and I was too shocked to go after her as she turned the corner and disappeared.
Tears welled up in my eyes, and my heart felt like it was falling to pieces. But the damage was done- there was nothing more I could do. And so it was with a heavy heart that I walked through those doors and on through that long, dim corridor. Tears streaked down my face, and I sobbed quietly as I walked. Was I a coward for not fighting back? Why did Toriel let me go, knowing I wouldn't fight back? Had she given up on me? These questions plagued me and only served to make me sadder. The tears subsided as I came to another cavern with a shaft of light falling upon the familiar face of Flowey, a condescending smirk on his face.
"What'cha crying about?" He asked, his tone mocking.
"Fuck you, that's what." I snapped back at him as I approached. "What do you want, anyway?"
"I saw what you did back there. Clever. Verrrryyy clever." He gave a slow clap with his leaves, still smirking. "You think you're really smart, don'tcha? Well, here's a reality check- in this world, it's kill or be killed."
I glared daggers at this flower, considering for a moment if it would be satisfying to crush this little shit under my foot, but I just rolled my eyes. "Duly noted." And ignored.
"So you were able to play by your own rules. You spared the life of a single person." Flowey gave a sinister giggle. "I bet you feel really great. You didn't kill anybody this time. But what will you do if you meet a relentless killer? You'll die, and you'll die, and you'll die, until you tire of trying. What will you do then?" His smirk became a malicious grin. "Will you kill out of frustration? Or, will you give up on this world...and let ME inherit the power to control it?"
"Neither," I snarled.
This just amused Flowey, and he laughed. "Cute- you're trying to be the hero, but that's not gonna work. I am the prince of this world's future. Don't worry, my little Monarch- my plan isn't regicide. This is SO much more interesting!" He gave an unsettlingly maniacal laugh, then disappeared, the sound echoing off the walls.
I stomped on the ground where the little bastard had been, leaving a dent in the grass- mostly out of fear. What had he meant by what he said? How was that little weed a Prince? And why did he call me his little Monarch? Was he talking about someone else? I shivered after I had finished trampling the patch of grass, panting hard. I didn't get any answers, but I felt a little better. I gave a long sigh, then turned toward the archway up ahead. A cold breeze was drifting through it, and I could see snow at the foot of another set of doors. With nothing left to do here, I walked through them, and relinquished myself to the hand of fate.