The Moon in the Dark

Long ago, the Monsters and Humans fought a great war. The Monsters lost, and were sealed in the Underground. It would take the power of seven human souls to break the barrier that kept them imprisoned. They only had six. And so the Monsters waited and hoped, praying that another human would find their way to the Underground. Some thought the seventh soul would give their King the strength to break the barrier. Some dreamed of a human who would be their friend, and save them all...or had nightmares of one who would bring back the war.
...but nobody came.
...but somepony did.
Eons after the war, with no way to tell how much time had passed above, a tiny blue filly with wings and horn fell into the underground, calling for her Mama. None knew the poor creature's nature or origins...but her soul was powerful with magic, even more so than a human soul.
None can know what will come...of this little 'Woona'.


21. History at the Edge of the Abyss

Indeed it has, Gaster agreed, his voice projecting not from his mouth, but by echoing through the bones of his hands, shaping in the holes and transmitting directly to the mind of the listener.  When last we spoke face to face, we each had corporeal bodies of our own.  Tell me, how is it that a celestial such as this one did allow a wraith such as you into her untainted soul?

Chara shivered internally, as unnerved as ever at how perceptive Gaster was.  "Mom adopted her," he replied through Woona's voice.  "When she learned about me, and Father...and Asriel...she decided she was going to make the family whole again."

And so she opened herself to a being of shadows and lies, to make him true, Gaster considered.  She is either very brave, very foolish...  His fleshy eye glinted in its socket.  Or very Determined.

"Certainly one of those," Chara allowed.  "All I had to do to speak to you like this...was ask."

And it unnerves you with how trusting of you she is, when you could so easily betray that trust.  You don't have to give back control at this point, after all.  When Chara's shock was mirrored onto Woona's face, a mirthless, unholy sound echoed through the chamber that could only be called laughter because there weren't enough damned present to be screaming.  Just because I've lost my emotional half doesn't mean I don't remember what it was like to feel things...the onus that the trust of an innocent can unwittingly place upon a tainted soul.

Chara closed his and Woona's eyes against what was happening, gathering his thoughts.  "What are you doing here, Gaster?" he demanded finally.  "Did you have something to do with Woona getting the Legendary Artifact?"

You have the cause and effect backwards, Chara, Gaster countered.  I am here because one of the Makers saw fit to put my greatest creation into play in this timeline.  Something amazing awaits at the end of this tale, I am certain.

"A Maker?  But Woona got it from the dog-your creation?" Chara gasped out, his interest changing mid-sentence as he realized what was said.

Gaster grinned mirthlessly as his hands shaped two different tales.  That dog is how that particular Maker chooses to represent himself in this world.  Makers tend to have a perverse sense of humor.  As Chara's thoughts wandered, Gaster's eye narrowed.  I said perverse.  Do you think about your mother with that brain-oh wait, that's what you were doing.

Even as Chara blustered about that, Gaster's other hand shaped the much more important story.  I served as the royal scientist to the King of the Monsters for a long time.  I served Asgore, and his father before him, and his father before him, and his father before him...since before the war...since before humans even knew of our sacred summerlands above, let alone came to them...since before we were known as 'Monsters'...  A quirk of the hand changed the storyline.  Back then, I was not as I am now...I was whole.  Things were peaceful.

When humans first came to our lands, there was peace.  But as we came to understand human Determination, we discovered the potential within ourselves to generate it.  But Determination requires a great deal of physical matter to properly manifest, and our bodies are almost entirely magic.  When we generate too much Determination, it tries to transform that magic into physical matter, and...  Gaster's eye glinted.  Flowey has told you the results of Alphys' experiments, hasn't he?

Chara shivered, convulsively swallowing bile he felt even though there was none in Woona's throat.  "Y...yes.  He...mentioned it a few times."  It was one of the few things that Flowey had Reset for, he was so weirded out by it...especially when he'd learned they couldn't be killed.

This was in the age when Asgore's father ruled, Gaster explained.  He approached me to find a solution, a way to prevent our number from falling to the poison made in our own bodies.  I worked long hours.  Days...weeks...months...but I eventually found a solution.  I created a crystal that was connected to the soul of every living monster by its very nature.  When Determination was generated, it would automatically collect all but the smallest amounts, save if the Monster needed it to keep itself alive, and was in dire straits.  A stone of pure, crystallized Determination.  This has become known as the Legendary Artifact, my ultimate creation...the SOULSTONE.

The SOULSTONE glittered at Woona's throat in response to being called by its true name.  "That's what it is?" Chara gasped out, putting one of Woona's hooves to the stone.  "That's why it generated so much power in that timeline that didn't happen?"

Yes.  Every time a Monster generates Determination, it is absorbed by the Stone, stored until the need of one who can tap its power unleashes its magic.  However, the forces I worked with to create it did not take kindly to being tamed against their will...and exacted a price.  The clever mind that sought to circumvent the fundamental nature of the world, the mischievous heart that cared not for consequences...these were split from each other into two separate entities, and the Heart lacked the knowledge to anchor itself properly, and was cast beyond the veil of time.  Gaster frowned as he recounted this detail.  The only way I can recover my true self is if no Monster speaks my True Name before I am whole again...which is why, when I explained all this to Oberon, he outlawed hockey.

Chara found himself more confused than enlightened by this, until he realized the last bit had been revealed by the other hand, which seemed to take more amusement in the situation then was really appropriate.  "If the Stone is so powerful, then why wasn't it used to win the war?"

Because its power is too great for any Monster to use safely, Gaster's hand explained.  Even Oberon could not risk tapping its power, or the flood of Determination would tear his soul asunder.  As such, he ordered me to seal it deep underground.  ...unfortunately, my efforts in creating it drew the attention of the humans, and they came to realize just how much power we had...and they came to fear us.  And that fear turned to hate...  Gaster smiled mirthlessly as Chara staggered back.  That's right, Chara...I'm the reason humans brought war to us.  I remembered what it felt like to care for all those who fell because of me...but feeling nothing has left me with only madness.  And when I saw that madness also taking seed in my Master, the King, your father...I sought a true solution.  Since my Heart was banished beyond the veil of time...I sought to conquer it.

Chara gasped in shock.  "You made the Resets!" he gasped out.  "You were trying to make yourself whole again, and caused the looping time!"

You are clever after all, Gaster allowed.  Yes, a side effect of the magic I sought to master backlashing against me.  The Underground became trapped in a bubble of time, echoing throughout the eons.  And whoever had the strongest Determination within that bubble, bound by the barrier made with the souls of Men, could turn back time at will along their own path through our lands.  But such power is dangerous...and so I slipped back through the cracks in time my tinkering left behind, and sought to make those who could guard that power against misuse...

"Sans and Papyrus?" Chara whispered.  "That's why they're so different?"

They are my sons, after all, even if most don't remember that they were made, not born.  Each was made with a different purpose.  Papyrus was supposed to be the protector of time...and so I made his skeleton body of physical matter, his bones pure Determination...Determination he was unable to access, as he lacked the confidence to face the job he was made for.  But should he ever overcome that hurdle and believe in himself, then even Time itself will obey him.

But when I realized that the forces I sought to tame defied mastery, I lost almost all hope.  It was in that darkness I saw it...the last spark of hope that the entire monster race will ever have.  The last spark...which burns brightest when it is all that is left in the darkness.  And thus was born sans, a skeleton with only one HP, the last spark of Hope made manifest.  When he isn't needed, his power is not brought to bear, and he might go unnoticed save by those he befriends.  But when he is all that is left...

"His power is overwhelming," Chara concluded.  "Flowey often ranted about how frustrating it was to try and fight him..."

Exactly.  And as Hope made manifest, his magic can directly manipulate the souls of others...and even draw forth power from the SOULSTONE without being destroyed, as long as he does not channel it into his own body.  Gaster's hands fell silent at last.

Chara remained silent, taking it all in.

Do you have the answers you sought here? Gaster's hands inquired.

"...more than I expected, Gaster," Chara replied.  "In fact, the only question you didn't more one Woona would need answered than me.  ...why did Father kill the other children?"

Alphys will tell Woona that, should she ask her, Gaster countered firmly.  She knows the whole story, and you won't need that answer until then.  For now, the crack in time created by the removal of the SOULSTONE is closing due to its presence.  Our conversation is at an end.

As simply as that, Gaster faded out.

Shivering, Chara walked Woona's body out of the chamber.  Woona...

To Chara's surprise, Woona instantly arose within the shared spiritual awareness.  I didn't really get most of that...except that my necklace is super duper important, and Sans and Papy are really good friends to have...

Chara chuckled.  That's...that's the important bits, yeah.  Since Woona was once more ready...he relinquished control of the body, surprised it was so easy for him to do so.  The shadows of his being seemed...a bit less dark.  Then again, perhaps it was just in comparison to the one he'd just been speaking to.

Smiling happily for her brother, Woona decided to test the one thing she understood - more or less - of the conversation.  She extended her magic into the SOULSTONE...

...and was filled with DETERMINATION.

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