CHAPTER 25:

A MOTHER'S LOVE

Lily Potter grimaced as she got off the cavern floor, taking a moment to get used to the fact that she was back in her original body as Ebrietas. Note to self, even my avatars are not invincible, so avoid acid-puking amalgamations of corpses, she thought to herself.

She looked at her form, and decided to begin reshaping it in earnest. Her body shrank, and changed from basically a slightly more endearing Cthulhu ripoff into her human form. "Well, that's better," Lily said. "Now, I'd better get to removing those wards keeping me in here."

As she did so, she got to thinking. The creature that attacked her in Yahar'gul felt like a Great One, and yet not. The body was not that of a Great One, but the soul? Had the School of Mensis made a pact with more than one Great One? Or was this their attempt at creating an artificial one?

Whatever it was, it was horrific, an amalgamation of corpses mashed together. She guessed that Mensis had taken corpses or even living people, or perhaps a combination of both. Sickening. Both the Choir and the School of Mensis had been equally atrocious.

"Humans," she muttered, as if it were an expletive, the word echoing around the cavern. And it was. Humans could embody the worst and the best of sentient life. But too many became hungry for knowledge or power, and would do anything to get it. True, one should be flexible enough with one's morality when need be, but there were lines you didn't cross.

It didn't mean she hated humans. Having lived amongst them, as one of them, she knew that there was much to them, more than her fellow Great Ones, most of whom abandoned her. God, she missed James so badly. He was an arse, true, but in the end, he proved himself to be a good man.

It was a surprise to find Kos hanging around in a near-human body, though. And amnesic, too. She could guess who did that, though.

Looking up at a hole in the ceiling, at the red-tinged moon, she said, "You always did like to fuck around with us, didn't you? You and Oedon. I'll bet any money it was either one of you, or one of the Greater Amygdalas. Assuming there's more than one left, anyway. Those pissy little ones hanging around this city do not count."

The moon didn't answer her. Not that she expected one. Still, she'd had enough of going through Yahar'gul for now. Her son would probably have to go through there later, so she cleared the way somewhat. Maybe she could catch up with people she once knew. Iosefka's Clinic, according to Sirius, was where they were…


Harry looked around the landscape they were wading through. Ankle-high water, not good on the Doll, no, Kos' dress, heading towards a dilapidated village. "It's just as I remember it," Maria remarked, morosely. "I never thought such a place would supplant Cainhurst in my nightmares, but this and parts of the Pthumerian Labyrinth have."

"Your home wasn't a good one?" Harry asked.

Maria scoffed. "It was luxurious, to be sure, but to call it decadent would be too kind. Depraved would be a better word, Harry. Those who fled were the smart and sane ones, but even then, those with Vileblood heritage are not well-liked, and I was a relative of Queen Annalise herself. I have…had a claim to the throne. I am dead now, and my claim doubtlessly died with me." She peered at her gloved hand. "A most peculiar thing, to be alive and dead at the same time. A ghost lingering in this nightmare. Many Great Ones exist purely on planes of thought. Perhaps I am not so different from them in that regard."

"We share that much," Kos said. "I am a ghost of my former self, shoved into a shell that resembles you. I…am regaining some of my memories, a few small fragments, but nothing worth reporting. Just parts of my life before coming here. It wasn't an interesting life, to tell the truth. But I was curious about humans. I can't remember whether we were once humans, or whether we came long before you, before the Pthumerians."

As they approached the village, though, they saw a deformed figure shambling out, wading through the water. Blue-grey skin, vaguely piscine features, all dressed in rags. "Byrgenwerth…Byrgenwerth…blasphemous murderers…bloodthirsty fiends…atonement for the wretches…by the wrath of Mother Kos…" He then noticed them. Or rather, he recognised Maria. "…You…" he hissed venomously.

"Yes. I know."

"Away with you! And take your fellow apostates with you, damned soul!" the man snarled. "You won't find yourselves any welcome here!"

"Nonetheless, we will press on," Kos said, stepping forward.

The fishman sneered at her, only for his eyes to widen beneath his ragged hood. "…This power…and yet, with this hated face…who are you?"

"You know who I am, O child," Kos said gently.

For a moment, the priest didn't seem to believe it, but then, he seemed to sag to his knees. "Mother Kos?" he asked quietly.

"In the flesh…or rather, this doll. The form was of the Hunter Gehrman's design, though he was not the one who put me into it."

"A shame. I sense your power, and it is a radiant beauty, even if it is in the form of one of the hated Hunters of Byrgenwerth. Mother Kos…so you have come back to us…"

"I have, O child. Raise yourself. I am much diminished since Byrgenwerth put paid to my physical form, and while I appreciate the respect, you need not abase yourself before me."

"I can tell you are much diminished, Mother Kos. And these others?"

Kos looked at him. "The Hunter's Nightmare has gone on long enough. I wish to put an end to it, save for those who deserve a place here…or wish to remain, either for atonement, or to simply continue their existence. Innocents amongst the Hunters have suffered, while the Healing Church continues its abominations."

The priest blinked, confused. Eventually, he said, "But the Formless One said that your wishes coincided with our own, that the Hunters, those born of Byrgenwerth's ideals, are to be punished forevermore."

"The Formless One? Oedon?" Kos asked sharply. "But I would never treat with him, why would I…? Oh, I see. I think things are making more sense now." She looked the priest in the eye. "And should I wish to lift the curse?"

"If that is your wish, Mother Kos, then we will abide by it," the priest said, a little uncertainly, but otherwise bowing. "Your mercy and your wrath go hand in hand. All that I ask is that we at least are allowed to continue our lives in this domain, for it is all we have left. It may seem like a nightmare to some, but to us, it is our home. Can you trust these?"

She indicated Harry. "I trust this one with my heart and soul, O child. He trusts these two, Hunters condemned by the Healing Church for objecting to their crimes. Lady Maria wishes to show her desire for atonement. Make no mistake, treachery will be rewarded as treachery deserves. But what of my child, the one born from my body, only to be slain by the Byrgenwerth murderers? Does it exist here too?"

"Indeed, Mother Kos," the priest said. "Your child awaits at the edge of our village, along with…your original form."

"I see." And then, Kos gently hugged him. "I am sorry it took me so long to come back to you, O child."

"No, forgive your unworthy child for having no faith in your return, Mother Kos," the priest said. "Your return is a cause for some happiness, after all…"


The priest had managed to let people know of Kos' return, so their trek through the village was relatively peaceful. Many shot them dirty looks, while others looked like they wanted to prostrate themselves at Kos' feet. Harry looked at the mutated people. "So, what actually changed their forms?"

"Parasites, born from my body," Kos said as they walked up a mountain path towards a lighthouse. "At the time, I thought it was a great gift. In hindsight, it was…but it only made those who encountered them think of them as monsters. This place was already insular, but it soon closed off from the outside world. But some still visited. It was one of those I seduced, in the form of a human. I do not remember their name, but it was this human who provided the seed to create my child."

"So the Orphan of Kos is part-human?" Maria asked. "That explains much. It looked more human than any Great Ones I have seen. And Great Ones are normally unable to have children. We believed Ebrietas to be one of the few exceptions, along with the possibility that Amygdalas reproduce asexually. Ebrietas was discussed in Pthumerian writings, and she was discovered shortly before I took my life."

"I did so out of curiosity," Kos said. "I had no love for the human. I chose him because he appeared to be a fit, healthy specimen, with no marital attachments present in the Fishing Hamlet. In hindsight…well, coupling with a complete stranger for the sake of bearing a child wasn't a good idea. But it was the child I desired, not a spouse. I did not believe I could find love in a human. Romantic love, I mean. Familial love, yes, I knew I could feel it, for these people were my offspring in a way as well. I…admit I encouraged their worship too much, but I felt so loved. I think that is what I wanted, to be loved. Very little love passes between the Great Ones, familial or romantic. Even the bonds of friendship are rare. True, we have somewhat alien mindsets, and yet, not so alien to not understand you. Perhaps that is why I loved the Hunters when I was still the Doll. Part of me yearned for family and friendship."

"Even though you cursed us," Yamamura said. The tone was not accusatory, more stoic and perhaps curious. But Kos winced all the same.

"It may be that Oedon twisted my curse. I may have meant to inflict this Nightmare on those who had the temerity to murder me and my children, but…I would like to think that I would not afflict their progeny. I may be mistaken, that my imprisonment in the Hunter's Dream has changed me for the better, and this is very much my own redemption. And yet, Oedon…Formless Oedon has a tendency to meddle in things."

"Why would he do such a thing?" Simon asked.

Kos looked over to Maria. "I'm sure you can guess the answer, Lady Maria. Gehrman would regale me with anecdotes of the Vilebloods and the other nobles at Cainhurst. Why did they commit such infamous atrocities, enough that the Executioners were sent to purge them?"

"I was told about that by some bastard from the Church who came to gloat to me in this place," Maria said. "And as to why…they did what they did simply for entertainment."

"Exactly. Oedon does these things simply because he can, for amusement, or at least that's the best way to explain it in your terms. It is like a child using a magnifying glass to burn ants, only he does so towards sentient beings. And he is also obsessed with having progeny. Any Great One who has the temerity to do so before him, like your mother, Harry, kindles his wrath, like the tantrum of a petulant toddler."

"So what's to stop him from interfering now?" Harry asked.

"He won't, not for now. But…he has a subordinate, one who created the Hunter's Dream, and forced me into this. This Great One has many names. The Pthumerians sometimes called it Flora of the Moon, but it is more oft known as the Moon Presence. I only hope that it cannot hear us. We may be in another dream reality, but it may be able to sense my thoughts through my original self back in the Dream. It certainly knows that you and I know my true identity, and only the fact that my powers are lacking are what's holding it back from taking action."

"But can it be killed?" Harry asked.

"It is powerful, but like many Great Ones, it has a physical form, and it can be killed, for a given quantity of being dead. Its sprit may linger in another plane of existence, but it can be rendered impotent."

"I agree," Maria said. "You may not have died completely, and this may be tasteless to point out under the circumstances, but your physical form, along with that of your child, were killed. Great Ones may be powerful, immortal, and probably the closest thing to gods, but they are not invincible. They can bleed, and they can die. You showed us that. Therefore, the Moon Presence can be killed in its turn. I know that is somewhat perverse reassurance, from the killer to her victim, but…"

"No, I understand, Maria. You, at least, showed remorse. I will grant you that much…"


After trekking through a series of caverns, filled with the mutated villagers (including snail-like women) and other creatures, they found themselves on a beach. Harry stared at the elegant pale shape, beached on the sand. It wasn't quite a fish, more like a form of underwater mollusc, long and elegant, with strange limbs. And yet, there was something perversely beautiful to the creature.

"…Is that you?" Harry asked Kos.

Kos nodded. "What my form was, before Byrgenwerth slaughtered me. I ask you to stay back, all of you. My child may not take well to you being here…but he may yet recognise me."

Before Harry could ask her to clarify, he heard it. Sobbing, that seemed to start off as a baby's cry, before deepening into the weeping of an elderly man. He soon spotted the source, squatting just beyond the corpse of Kos.

It was humanoid, but grotesquely so, the skin the pale blue of an aquatic creature…or a drowned corpse. Malformed, it was large and lanky, even while squatting on its haunches. Flaps of flesh dangled from its shoulders. It was seemingly sitting amongst the afterbirth from its…well, birth, great lumps of crimson matter clashing with its paler colour scheme.

Kos gingerly approached. Her child, for what else could it be, noticed her approach, scrambling around on its rear, ready to attack. It even took up part of what could have been a placenta in its hand…only to stare at Kos approaching. It whimpered something incoherent, possibly questioning.

"Yes…it is me, O sweet child," Kos said gently. "I know it may be hard to fathom, but…I am here once more."

For a tense moment, her child seemed about to attack regardless, its posture wary and belligerent. But as if with the flick of a switch, it sank to its knees, and flung its arms around Kos. Sobbing burst from its frame anew, as mother and child were reunited once more.

The Orphan of Kos was an orphan no longer.

CHAPTER 25 ANNOTATIONS:

So, there you have it. Mother and child have reunited. Harry's going to be part of one big eldritch family.

Now, I know I said there'd be a wait between the previous chapter and this one, but I had written most of it earlier. However, I need to think about how this story is going to go from here. Plus, I have some crossovers I want to write, including my aforementioned Dark Souls and Mass Effect crossovers. So it might be quite a while before you guys get another chapter.

Still, you've got quite a lot of story so far. And I hope you've enjoyed it.

Actually, before I go onto the reviews, I'd like to add one last thing, albeit somewhat belatedly. RIP, Kentaro Miura. Without Berserk, we would not have had the Soulsborne games. And with his passing, dark fantasy will never be the same.

Review-answering time! Tenzo51: The Moon Presence isn't wholly aware of what is happening. It doesn't know Harry is Ebrietas' child, though it did sense some eldritch power within him. It probably thought he might make a good replacement for Gehrman eventually. I like to view the Great Ones as not being omniscient. They may see anywhere, but they cannot see everywhere, not at the same time. I do have some plans for the Moon Presence, and its relationship with Oedon and why it established the Hunter's Dream, as well as Oedon himself.

Zathol: Yeah, Luna would get along scarily well with Lily-Ebrietas. And Tiny Tina from the Borderlands games.

zanzara: Let's just say that Maria will be VERY unhappy with Gehrman. He did basically make a fetishized version of her. In addition, they already parted on bad terms after the Fishing Hamlet pogrom. Learning that he basically had her as his mental fap material would annoy her. She viewed him as a father figure and a mentor, not as a lover.

Dragon Man 180: Thanks. Though as you saw above, she is far from invincible. And Rookwood…well, I'm glad he's caused interest. I wanted someone who was utterly amoral, a mad scientist who didn't ham it up, but took things in his stride, and views new experiences, even horrific ones, as learning experiences. I mentioned my influences for his character in previous chapters.

TheLostLordOfCinders: Yeah, well, I'm actually getting into Dark Souls and its deep lore. Hell, I'm most of the way through the third game, and certainly through a good chunk of the first. I'm hoping to do a crossover soon, aside from my oneshot Worth a Thousand Words and More.

As for adding to the lore, keep in mind, my interpretation of the lore, while based a lot on both my own personal fanon as well as the ever-enjoyable Vaati Vidya's videos, is not necessarily the definitive version. I try to make it so that it is plausible within the lore (for example, there is no evidence against the Doll being Kos reborn, and it's certainly not implausible), but the dictates of this story come first and foremost.

Taitenator: I'll clarify it in the story in the next chapter, but the Orphan, while not the cause of the Hunter's Nightmare, is its anchor. Basically, Kos cursed the Byrgenwerth Hunters with her dying breath, but Oedon and the Moon Presence, because they get off on humanity's tears, twisted the curse so that every Hunter is affected. The Orphan was used as an anchor to keep the Nightmare running, as it has a fragment of its mother's power. The remnants of Kos' soul was kept aside by the Moon Presence for use later.

p6lishb6sker: Are you talking about deathbearABC123's Harry Potter and the Berserker? That's a damned good fic, and without that fic, I would never have done my own Berserk crossover, Ubi Amor, Ibi Dolor.

Zeromaru Chaos Mode: Yeah, Al Bhed is fairly easy to recognise for fans of Final Fantasy X, but it's become a handy shorthand for a fictional language, especially if it has to sound alien or, in this case, eldritch. As for Ludwig's attack, fair enough. I'm a major fan of the Nasuverse, so it does resemble Arturia's Noble Phantasm. But when you think about it, the Moonlight Greatsword does resembled the Ultima Weapon in a lot of Final Fantasy games, doesn't it?

No numbered annotations this time.