The explanation Miss Luna gave for why her tummy had suddenly grown big was confusing for Mai, but she accepted it nonetheless. She had no reason to not believe it, after all. The more pressing matter was how much Miss Luna was doting on her. She felt herself seem to melt at Miss Luna's admissions at Mai's cuteness. It felt incredibly nice for the young girl. She was certainly not accustomed to the strange feeling of being younger than usual, but she could certainly get used to such a feeling if it meant Miss Luna treating her like this. Papa had on occasion mentioned Mai's cuteness, but never to the extent of what Miss Luna was doing. Even when Papa would pick up the God Slayer, it did not quite have the same feeling as what Miss Luna was doing now. Papa would often pick the girl up with a single hand and place her on a shoulder to run around and play, or if Papa needed to show Mai a town that had wronged them. Miss Luna's seemed more caring - more soothing. Mai could easily get used to this feeling.
As full of energy as the girl usually was, she felt herself suddenly lose her energy to run around and do much of anything as Miss Luna held her. Perhaps it was an effect of the different feel of having Miss Luna hold her as opposed to the only other person to do so in Papa. Mai, as restless as she usually was, felt as though she wanted little more than to just sleep. Her mind bounced back and forth between the desire to sleep, the desire to be in the presence of Miss Luna, and the desire to prove that she would be able to undertake such an important task as this.
"You can always ask me to do anything you need me to do, Miss Luna!" Mai attempted to shout, her usual enthusiasm having been completely erased by a yawn. "I'm the best girl, right Miss Luna?"
Mai yawned once more, nuzzling against the side of Miss Luna's neck. She tried to make herself as comfortable as she possibly could in Miss Luna's arms. Perhaps it was the relative lack of sweets, perhaps the excitement of going on a high-rank job with Miss Luna, perhaps it was Mai's reduced age, perhaps it was the feeling of Miss Luna doting on her so much, or perhaps it was a combination of all of them, but Mai was overcome with a wave of tiredness. Mai just wanted to take a nap. Miss Luna's grip was just too comfortable to the small girl. "Wake me up when we have to beat up the baddies, Miss Luna..." Mai mumbled as she drifted off to sleep.
Even with the world in total darkness at the beginning of the realms of sleep, Mai was still all too aware of the warm embrace of Miss Luna. It washed over her like a flood, the heat filling up every fiber of Mai's being. Even in her sleep, Mai would still continue to attempt to get herself in a comfortable position within Miss Luna's arms, even while she was unaware of it. Of course, with a girl that was as immature and youthful as Mai, it would be impossible to simply stay in the dregs of a dreamless sleep for long. Almost as soon as she had fallen asleep, she began to wander into a realm of dreams. As she drifted to sleep, she began to snore lightly. Each exhale of a snore burst out a small cloud of tempests, no larger than a light bulb.
Yet these dreams were so unlike those that Mai had experienced in the past. The first was one that she had seen so many times before. It was one of her last experiences with her Papa, a time simply in their home when Papa was teaching Mai of combat. The big-bellied, white-haired appearance of her Papa was...different somehow. Rather than the form she was used to, he looked...hairier. Ratatoskr had mentioned creatures called "monkeys," and Papa looked strangely close to this. It was confusing to Mai. In the months since Papa disappeared, Mai had this dream every day, but this was the first time that Mai's vision had changed the appearance of Papa. Some of it may have been effected by the perpetuating feeling of otherworldly warmth, that lingering presence of Miss Luna that seeped and flowed into Mai's entire existence, blurring and overriding rules and teachings that Mai once thought to be set in stone for eternity.
"Papa!" Mai barked, running up to her Papa.
Papa turned towards Mai, giving a light smile. "There's the kiddo!"
Mai leaped, trying to hug Papa, who merely blocked her advance with a hand. He set his massive hand on the ground, letting Mai clamber up on top of it. He then slowly raised his hand to his head, letting Mai dismount from her Papa's hand to grab on the top of Papa's head. He gave a laugh. It was not a pretty thing by any means. The low grumbling caused the very trees nearby to shake and shift, sending a flurry of birds flying off in fear. Squirrels rushed away from Papa, and Mai could see the nests of some of the recently-fled birds as they were sat high in their canopies. But even now, Mai could feel something was wrong about this situation. While she had spent all of her previous experiences in this dream wrapped in the excitement of getting to see Papa again, there was an unfamiliar experience to this.
"What's wrong, kiddo?"
"You don't feel as warm as Miss Luna..."
Papa carefully grabbed the girl between two fingers, setting her on the ground. "Miss Luna? The fairy?"
"Yep! She's a really nice lady that's caring for me now that-" Mai stopped herself in her tracks as she went to continue on her words. "...now that you're not here anymore."
Papa struggled to lay down, trying his best to get to eye level with Mai. "Don't worry about it, kiddo. As long as you're safe, that's what matters, right?"
Papa exhaled through his nose. A burst of wind forced Mai's hair and dress to flutter. "Just remember what I taught you, kiddo, right? I'm sure we'll meet again."
Mai smiled, despite the tears beginning to fill her eyes."I don't want you to go again!"
Papa laughed. "It's gonna be alright, kiddo. You've got your Miss Luna now, right? Just like I was your Papa, you now have her as your Mama, so to speak."
Mai was about to retort with something when she suddenly was faded from the realm of dreaming. She was very tired, but nonetheless awake, hearing Miss Luna talking about something. Half-asleep, she muttered, "Mama?" before tightly snuggling once more, further into Miss Luna's arms. While there was certainly work to do, Mai had to try to keep it in her mind to remember this dream. Despite Papa's different appearance, Mai was convinced that it was actually Papa. Similarly, she was convinced that this was not a dream, either, not truly. It felt like Papa truly was there, truly talking and truly telling Mai to listen to Miss Luna. Even with Miss Luna's tutelage, she still had many uncertainties. In the end, Papa was her Papa. One of the first lessons he had taught was to listen to him at all circumstances, and if there was something that was uncertain of whether or not to do, it should be brought to him to find out what to do.
Everything in that dream felt real. The leathery feel of Papa's hand, the soft, cushiony feel of his fur, the wind brushing her hair and dress and the smell of rain coming from his exhalation. It was more than just a simple dream. It was more, so it seemed. Mai had never remembered Papa entrusting her to anyone. Even when a Spirit of Thunder had come forth to offer to watch over her while Papa had to do something, Papa had refused. He said that he would never give Mai to anyone unless...
Mai did not want to remember the last of his words. It felt too real of a possibility. Papa had taught about it, warned about it, even showed Mai different ways about it. But he always said that he could never fall to it. He was a God. It meant that he could avoid the rules of nature if he pleased.
Papa could not be dead, right? Papa had always promised that he would make sure Mai was okay, make sure that no one laid a hand on her unless he was dead. He warned that it came to all in the mortal realm at some point. He was a god, so it was impossible for him to die. That was what he always said. He would prove that things could die so often. Hunting deer and bears, destroying villages, he said that after a life was snuffed from the realm of mortals, it was no longer his domain to worry about. Things die and are reborn, he said, and that was why a God could not die. A God cannot be reborn. If a God were to die, it would throw nature away.
"I don't want you to die, Miss Luna..." Mai mumbled, still half asleep as she hugged tightly against Miss Luna's arm.
She spent a few moments contemplating whether or not she wanted to get up. She was not active, nor was she wanting to return to sleep. She did not know how long her nap was, but it must have been a long ways, as the landscape around her looked vastly different than that of when Mai was reduced in size and age. Finally, she decided to wake. She indicated that she wanted to run around for a bit, but she promised that she would still stay visible. Before an answer towards her permission could be made, Mai had already began to run around. She felt herself invigorated by her nap, and wanted to run around to release her pent-up energy. Papa always said that it was a wise idea to not store too much energy. If it weren't released, he said, it could make you explode. Mai did not want to explode, so she always used what energy she could whenever possible, as Papa never said how much energy was "too much" energy.
While she was still far from used to her shortened form, she nonetheless found much good in it. The first and most obvious good to it was Miss Luna's appreciation for the small version of the God Slayer. Papa always wanted Mai to practice being cute, though he would never quite explain why, and now Mai had a means to be even better at that without even trying. The second was that her shorter legs meant she could seem to run further without truly going as far in physical space as expected.
She lost herself in her imagination, pretending that she was hunting after a jaguar. She would mock swinging through the trees, jumping from branch to branch to get a good spot so a chase would not be in order, eventually when she had found one, she would prepare to pounce. It perhaps looked weird, for this small girl to suddenly decide to go from running, skipping, and jumping to preparing herself on all fours, changing her speedy dash to a slow, methodical crawl. She would then prepare energy to pounce, wiggling her body slightly as if to charge an engine, before leaping like what felt like a mighty tiger, but truly looking like a frog. Of course, the pretend jaguar was amazingly good at avoiding being eaten, so it managed to dodge out of the way of the wannabe ferocious girl. It began to dash on the forest bed, Mai chasing after it as it conveniently ran in circles, making sure not to stray far from Miss Luna, aside from the one moment where someone had pulled her back, though the jaguar conveniently also seemed to move backwards at this moment. The chase lasted for what felt like hours, but in truth was likely only a few minutes, before Mai got tired.
"Tempest God's Bellow!" she roared, content with not punching her fake jaguar. She roared, letting a mighty roar go, the tempestous clouds billowing, completely enveloping the beast as it fell to the ground. Mai was then removed from her imaginatory hunt, only to be disappointed when she saw no jaguar and that her mighty roar was no larger than a handprint, and only managed to slightly singe a nearby rock. Mai looked around, trying to find her jaguar, when she noticed Miss Luna, skipping over to her, though she did trip on her way back to Miss Luna, smacking her head on the ground.
"Did you see me there, Miss Luna? I hunted that beastie real good!" She smiled, grabbing Miss Luna's hand as she ignored the comedic lump that had grown atop her forehead. "This job is a lot of fun, Miss Luna! I get to spend it all with you and I get to beat up baddies with Miss Luna right next to me!" She snuggled against Miss Luna's left arm once more."But I really wanna beat up these baddies! Are we there yet?" The girl looked up expectantly at her mentor, desiring either to be ready to beat up the meanies that were being mean to the weak, magicless client or to be gifted a snack for her vicious imaginary hunt. With her excitement from her recent "hunt," she had completely forgotten about the dream that she had during her nap, though there was an inkling in the back of her mind that there was something she needed to ask about, but it was of little concern, as Miss Luna was there and all was well.