• Event • Moondream

The expansive wasteland of the Northern Region is both beautiful and inhospitable. Viden, though isolated; it is not a solitary city. Satellite towns, which are little more than fortresses, surround Viden and are both ancillary to, and autonomous from, the citadel of Viden.

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Moondream

Postby Darcyanna Venora » Tue Jan 30, 2018 5:15 am

91st Zi’da, 717

Darcyanna cringed internally as Maebella dressed down the First Ranger. They were none of them anywhere near as experienced as the man, nor by the looks of it as scary, and yet it seemed the blue skinned woman and the Gawyne wanted to ensure he was angry enough to just up an leave them.
 
Fates, please don’t let him leave.
 
As the scarred man glared at the Eidisi, the noble watched him way his words up, before he answered her simply. There was indeed more, however, what was the point in telling them? It was clearly going to serve up more fears and concerns. Plow forward, that was his goal. As his gaze burned on herself, the blonde nodded silently, knowing that she placed her life in this terrifying mans hands. They all did really.
 
What choice did they have?
 
Two to One, Freezing.
 
She had no sarding idea what the line meant, but the words sent a shiver down her spine, causing the pianist to draw her hood closer around her face with a frown. Could this get any worse? As they left the room via the small exit, the Venora marvelled at the colours in the ice, feeling with each step that something was coming. Something more. Her heart beat wildly in her chest, excited and scared all at once. Glancing up she saw the blue woman move closer to the tall northerner and fought to stop the frown that wanted to break forth. How could she stand the cold?
 
Once they entered the next room, Darcy stopped short with a small ‘oh’ of surprise, taking in the situation before them. It was…more or less…one large gaping hole. There were two paths to the left and right – neither of which looked particularly safe – and across the hole two heavy ropes staked into the icy ground.
 
Caius voiced their thoughts before he stepped over to look down the hole and up at the shimmering stalactites that appeared poised to fall at any given moment. The effect made Darcy feel humbled, as though the entire room required a quiet—
 
Nevermind.
 
As the taller diri took charge, the pianist glanced up at the ceiling again, hoping that their voices would not rattle the sharp growths free. She knew nothing of caves or climbing or icy pathways, but something about the whole thing seemed to warrant quiet. She wanted to follow the Gawyne, she did, but something about the path was not sitting well with the blonde. Her pack didn’t contain….shoe grips? It had rope, rations, a fire-starting kit, and some sort of medical pack.

As Maebella rationalised things, Darcy simply listened, nodding at the call out about people slipping and pulling others down and the cold, no, the utter blizzard Caius was generating. Eventually though, someone finally asked the delicate Venora what she suggested, and for a moment she simply blinked.

“I uh...I actually. I think we should take the ropes.” Glancing from the Eidisi to the diri, the Ivory Rose blushed deeply as though a child caught with their hand in the treat jar.

“Caius I think Maebella is right. If we go around the side, there is a huge risk one of us will slip and take the others with them. I don’t have those shoe things, and I think I can see a way across the ropes. I’m light enough, I think, to make it. Myself and Maebella, one at a time.” She wanted to reach out, to press her hand to his face, but the cold was overwhelming. Swallowing her sense of betrayal, the Venora moved to the ropes, moving to rest one of her hands the top one.

“Yourself and Alucard should take the pathway. You’re heavier, more experienced with the ice and snow. I...I need to hold onto something. That path is just...I can’t do it.” Knowing that if she hesitated, if she gave the man a chance to speak she would change her mind, the pale creature lifted a foot and stepped up on the rope, reaching to hold the one above her with two hands.

With a moment to settle her heart rate and retain her balance, Darcyanna began to slowly creep along the ropes, refusing to look down at the abyss or back at her lover. Her hopefully still future suitor.
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Postby Djinn » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:52 pm

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"I never said my wishes were supposed to do any good," said the Djinn...

91 Zi'da 717
The Tundra north of Viden


Alucard stood, silent against the freezing cold, as the three decided which paths they would take. A slight smile lifted whiskered lips at Caius' insistence on taking the side path. Though he wouldn't admit it, Alucard wanted less to do with the rope than the chasm itself, and he would rather throw Caius across with a rope tied around him and swing over than walk on the precarious and wobbly bridge. The women were petite, they could make it... Not him, not with his bulk and his gear. He silently thanked Caius for his wisdom, but said nothing. It wasn't his place to make their decisions. He was just there to guide them.

"Aye, ye's do wha'ever ye want. The prissy boy an' I will take the side, an' meet ye on the other bank. Ye two link up, yeah? Save each other," he muttered, moving forward with a thick rope in his hands. He tied one end around Maebella's waist, the heavy cord uncomfortably pushing the fur cloak up, letting a slight chill in beneath. He moved to Darcyanna, and as he knelt to tie her end, she noticed a look of fear on his face. Was he scared of the hole, or of them moving across it and not surviving? As soon as he was done, though, Darcyanna took to the rope, leaving Alucard behind with a look of admiration. No time to fear, just action. Perhaps she wasn't the pampered noble whelp he thought she was. As soon as the rope grew taught, Maebella felt the pull to ascend to the rope. Alucard backed over to Caius, watching as the women took to their path, frowning.

"A'right, boy. We ain't tyin' together. Ye walk in front, an' if you slip, I'll catch ye and throw ya across. Don't hesitate, an' if ye slip, don't fekkin' panic. Ye make the wrong move, an' yer dead," came the grim instruction from the man, whose piercing eyes challenged Caius to retort. "An' in Ziell's name, if ye see me slip, try to fekkin' catch me, a'right?" He knew it was a stretch, since he and Caius had been butting heads since they had awoken. Still, though, Alucard had to trust that Caius viewed him as an asset in the cave, and would save him if he needed.

"Let's move," Alucard said, turning to look at Maebella and Darcyanna, the latter of which was nearly halfway along the rope. Nodding in approval, Alucard nudged Caius towards the icy path, his jaw set as they both slipped out onto the ledge.

The movement was slow, painfully so, since the ledge was as narrow as it was. They crept across it inch by inch, feeling as if it were growing slowly more narrow as they approached the middle. Nearly there, a loud ripping noise tore through the cave, shocking them all. Looking behind them, Caius and Alucard saw as both Darcyanna and Maebella were torn from the rope, thrown through what looked like a tear in the very fabric of reality. Both women screamed, but they couldn't resist, and when the portal closed, the room was silent except for the thundering of Caius' and Alucard's hearts.

"What in the fekkin' name o--" He felt it. The path wasn't getting narrower towards the middle. Instead, the wall was inching ever closer to the edge of the path, giving them less room to work with and pushing them from it into the blackness of the chasm below. In that terrifying instant, with the girls ripped from the room and the conclusion of the wall, despair spread through Alucard's veins. Galius' seven couldn't make it, and neither would he and his. He focused though, calming the uproar in his body to a gentle peace, and muttered to Caius.

"We'll find 'em, boy. Fer now, though, we're losin' room. Move yer pansy ass." The last sentence was growled, a command to break any reverie Caius might have fallen into at losing both of his girlfriends. The path was cut in half now, and only half of each of their feet could fit. Toes or heel, but not both. They needed to pick up the pace, or they were dead.





The mouth opened again, a screaming, yawning gate that exhaled the Eidisi and the Venora from its gaping maw. They tumbled out, tied together still, in a cavernous room like the one before the chasm. Lining the walls, as if carved from the very prismatic ice that comprised the cave, were shelves upon shelves, stacked with dusty tomes whose spines carried gilded filigree in languages neither of them knew. An ice dais sat in the center of the room, feet away from where they landed, and upon it were scrolls, one rolled open to reveal a map of the cavern system. It was held open on all four corners by a dagger in each, simple steel, but sharp.

A light ringing sounded through the cavern, as if tinkling bells were just up high enough to cause the faintest echoes to float down to the women. The sense of wonder that clung to the air inundated them, striking them dumb for the moment as they observed the splendor of the library, for that's what it was. The scrolls and tomes showed no signs of decay or degradation, as if the cold in the room had kept them perfectly preserved. In the corner lied a skeleton, outfitted in the leather armour of the Rangers of Viden. In his hand, another journal, this one open and incomplete. From their position, neither Maebella nor Darcyanna could make out the writing, but they had a feeling that it was the last thoughts of the man that had died in the room.

Upon approaching the skeletal remains, they noticed the library shift in colour. Where they'd exited the tear, it was bright and fluorescent, and on this side, it was warm and earthy, the blues and greens melded to create a soft atmosphere. Whomever the man was who had died, he could not have chosen to a prettier frozen cave in which to do so.





The wall began to make a grinding sound, as if the force was pushing it against its natural setting. The ledge didn't shake, so much as begin to just give way behind them. Alucard glanced back, luckily, and swore.

"Ziell's blue balls! Move yer fekkin' ass!" He roared, coming in quickly behind Caius. The skinny nobleman tried to move faster, but the ledge had grown too narrow, and when he did, one of his feet slipped off. Time stopped in that trill, as Caius turned in the air to face Alucard, whose mouth was contorting in slow motion to form the word "FUCK!" The First Ranger thrust a hand out to grab Caius, but missed by a hair. There he was frozen in the air, suspended there by hope that salvation would come.

And then the feeling of plummeting.

Alucard swore again, leaping from the ledge to descend after Caius. It all happened in a moment, with the First Ranger slipping the climbing axe from a loop on his belt, slamming the spike into the ice. His left hand fell down and snatched Caius by the shirt, tearing the jacket and the fabric beneath it. Holding Caius there, suspended from the ice axe by only Alucard's muscled arm, the two swung gently to the side. Caius felt the cold now, emanating from the black pit beneath them. As they swung, something blue caught Caius' eye.

His chest... And the spider-web like cracks formed around his heart, a bluish-white in appearance. Without giving Caius time to process, Alucard grunted and swung his harm, launching the skinnier man the last few feet to the other bank. Sighing in relief at the loss of Caius' body weight, Alucard shouted up.

"Toss me some fekkin' rope, boy. I can't hang here all day."

There was a lot to process, but Alucard was in imminent danger.


"In fact, I swore they would always do as much harm as possible."
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Moondream

Postby Caius Gawyne » Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:30 pm

Of course Maebella would speak up first. In typical Eídisi fashion, as soon as Caius attempted to present a somewhat coherent plan, the blue-skinned woman was there to step in and take it apart, pupil-less gaze looking at the pieces for weakness. His expression soured, gloved hands stilling their movements on the rope he still held and shifting uncomfortably on his feet with a hiss of obvious displeasure,

"Mae, maybe you're overthinking just a—" The young Gawyne began to snap back at her, but he bit his lip and let her have her say anyway, dark irises shifting from her face to Darcy at the words about dying, unable to avoid the needful connection in spite of the semantics, but Maebella's words to the blonde Venora directly rubbed him in all the wrong directions and he set his jaw defiantly at the blatant questioning of not only his intellect but also his authority.

It was all he could do to keep himself from interjecting with a caustic retort. He wasn't just one person, wasn't just a stranger, and wasn't just making a decision for people he didn't give a sarding fodsack about. Because he did. He cared for them, and even if the Eídisi doubted him now for all worthwhile and hurtful reasons, she was included in his concerns. He wasn't a fucking nobody, and while he had no qualms about deferring to others when it was appropriate to do so, the ropes looked foolish to him, considering the unknown depth of the chasm between where they stood and where they wished to go.

Darcyanna voiced her agreement with the blue-skinned woman and Caius visibly bristled, his voice a low, rumbling growl of frustration instead of a collection of clear, sharp syllables, "—you, too? Doesn't anyone understand how climbing works? Distributing the weight means that if one of you slips, the rest of us keep you from—fuck it. Do what you want. Dying doesn't matter anymore anyway, does it?"

Her blush stung him.

The brief, hesitant motion of her body in his direction stung worse when she turned away.

The northern noble chose to glare at Maebella to make sure she was happy with herself, to make sure that she was secure in her divisiveness, but all he had was an empty expression of defeat. Wilted, he waved an angry hand as if to express how much he didn't care, but he wasn't at all going to attempt the ropes over the chasm. Maybe they'd just all die after all. Then it wouldn't sarding matter anyway.

He dully watched Alucard finally decide to speak up and take action, but said nothing else, frustrated and betrayed. Even when the First Ranger turned to him, Caius said nothing, dour expression faltering only at the strange man's choice of Immortals. His dark gaze slipped away from the other man for a moment, just to watch Darcy and Mae make their way across the ropes, but the sight of it threatened to steal all the frigid breath from his lungs and so he was forced to focus once again on the stranger,

"We should." He grunted despondently, voice quiet, when Alucard dismissed the idea of them tying themselves together. He looped the rope around himself instead, not particularly wanting to feel the sore motion of swinging his pack from his shoulder and swinging it back again. Obediently and with little prompting, Caius made his way to the ledge as if determined to prove his superior decision, carefully keen to find ways to use the crampons to improve his grip on the slick surface of the path. He told himself he wasn't going to look back over across the chasm again, but of course when he did, it was inappropriately timed,

"No!" He managed. It wasn't a shout, more of a shocked squeak, an exhale of terror as he struggled to keep his balance and keep himself from madly attempting to leap after the disappearing women into the chasm, "No."

The young Gawyne didn't exactly have time to deal with what had just happened, the path beneath his feet shifting, no, the wall to the side of him moving. Panic cowed him into silence and loss threatened to suffocate him into stillness, but Alucard spoke from behind him and he made some tearful noise of compliance, beginning to move faster, to find what grip he could and keep going toward the ledge on the other side even as the pair of men began to lose even the last of their footing.

Lack of practical skill and fear was enough to end their progress when Caius' foot slipped and he felt his insides lurch, too-hot heart burning against the back of his throat. Pale gaze searched wildly for the First Ranger and he thought to reach for the dagger he'd shoved in his belt, desperately wanting something to hold onto, but his motions weren't as fast as Alucard in his shock, and the force of the other man catching him and stopping their motion was enough to crush the breath from his chest and rip the fabric of both his coat and his shirt. Just as he was looking away from the chasm below to the strange glimpse of his chest he had for a trill, though his thoughts were mostly crowded by death and terror.

Death, of course, he expected. He'd heard it, felt it, waited for its promises for as long as he had memories of understanding the gift he'd been left by virtue of his birth. Did this count as natural death? Or was there something worse?

Fuck if he knew.

Fuck if it mattered—Oh.

And then the First Ranger tossed him bodily, sending him across and onto the other bank. As much as he'd prefer to lay there for a moment and be angry or sad or surprised or afraid or any of the other loud, poignant emotions that were all clamoring for his ardent attention, he couldn't. He simply could not. The northern noble really wasn't in a position to do such thinking, though the series of events that had unfolded in a fistful of heartbeats begged desperately to be processed. Instead, the other man was still hanging against the wall by an axe and Caius could only do the things that seemed important to do, reaching to uncoil the rope that he'd at least chosen not to shove back into his pack.

He did make the effort to not rely on just his own strength, wrapping the rope once around his person to allow for his body weight and the weight of his pack to supply additional support before he dug his feet into the ledge and tossed the quickly-knotted end of the rope in Alucard's direction, even if it took more than one attempt because he wasn't necessarily working within his usual expected range of skills.

The young Gawyne had shockingly little to say, choosing not to think or speak until one of two things happened: the First Ranger climbed to safety or both of them fell.

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Postby Darcyanna Venora » Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:44 pm

91st Zi’da, 717

One step at a time, slowly slowly. Don’t look down.

Darcyanna repeated the mantra over and over as she moved along the rope. Hand by hand, step by step. A chill wind swirled gently from the abyss below, causing the pale skirts of her outfit to billow and curl around her legs. Her heart fell at Caius’ snarky snapped words as she had refused to follow him. It was clearly concern and fear driving his comments, but it didn’t make hurt any less. She couldn’t help herself just as they reached the middle mark, the blonde glanced up to check on the tormented noble, and at the same time she heard the loud tearing noise. Eyes wide and pale with fear, she looked back at Maebella as if to say ‘go back’ when suddenly a massive—tear?!?—opened beside them. The Venora screamed, her fingers stinging as they were ripped from their tight grip on the rope. It was as though a giant hand had grasped her by the middle and tore her bodily from the bridge into the tear. She saw a split second of nothing, before falling heavily onto the icy ground, knocking her head.

“Ahh...fates.” She groaned, pushing herself up and putting a hand to her forehead. The impact had not broken any skin, but the blonde could feel a lump already forming. Glancing over at the Eidisi, she hissed as she touched the sore spot.

“Are you okay? I have some medicinal skill if neede—holy Seven save us! Caius?! Alucard?!” Scrambling to her feet, tangled in the rope that linked her to Mae, Darcyanna’s breath plumed as she panted and looked around the room they had suddenly fallen into. The two men were nowhere in sight. In fact, the whole chamber was completely gone, replaced by a new splendour.

It was made from the same beautiful ice they had seen in the antechamber, only this time the walls were filled with carved shelves that carried curious tomes in script the mixed blood couldn’t understand. Untying herself from the rope, Darcy ran her hand over the dusty books lightly and pulled one from the shelf, running her fingers over the strange foreign filigree before turning to the blue skinned woman. Before she could speak, all around them, the room made a ringing sound. Like bells just on the cusp of one’s hearing. It was beautiful, leaving the blonde Venora with a sense of awe.

“By the Fates. It’s a library. A sarding library, who knows how many arc’s it’s been here. It could have been here since, oh my word...” Shaking her head, she pointed at the books.

“Do you know what language this is?” The woman had proven so far to be more of a scholar than a fighter, perhaps she knew what the writing said. Whatever it was, she herself couldn’t tell, but the tome itself was in perfect condition. When she found Caius, no doubt he would be fascinated by it. Perhaps she would take one before they left the room.

Moving to the table, the blonde looked over the man in avid concentration, trying to decipher where they were on the scroll. She had no idea how to read a sarding map, not one like this, but Alucard might.

“Look at this Maebella. It’s a map, of these caves I think! We should take this, for The First Ranger. He might understand it. Those daggers, they could come in handy. We should take them too.” If Mae agreed, Darcy would move to pull on one of the daggers with a grunt. It was stuck fast. Frowning, she tugged harder, wriggling to free the sharp pointed weapon. It was a damned sight better than a bow she had minimal knowledge on.

Once they had the map and the daggers, the pianist turned around the room with a short scream, jumping back into Mae with fright.

“Oh sarding fates it’s another dead man!” She yelped, shaking her hands in disgust and making a soft whine. Gasping to catch her breath, hand on her heart, the blonde moved closer to the skeletal remains with a gasp of wonder. The library shifted, colors turning to beautiful warm earthy tones reminiscent of the summery dulcets of Ymiden. Glancing around again as they moved closer, Darcyanna wondered where the Gawyne and the Ranger were.

Where they were?

“Maebella. Do you see a door? A way out?” She asked as they approached the skeleton, her blue eyes looking to the journal with a frown. Whatever was written, from this position it was unreadable. She moved closer, craning her neck to read the writing. Glancing back at the man’s remains, her brow furrowed.

“I’m sorry you died here, good Ser.” She said softly, considering his armour for a moment. Suddenly, her delicate hands grabbed at the chest piece, making another strange noise of horror as she tried to remove the armour. They should take what they could, before something else happened. Who knows what would pop up next? Another tear with the men, or maybe something worse? They had no sarding idea what Two to One, Freezing actually meant. It could be bad.

Seven forgive her.
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Postby Maebella » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:21 pm

Maebella couldn't help wondering if anyone had ever asked Darcy her opinion before. She didn't know anything about the woman and she knew next to nothing about the culture in Rynmere so she had no notion of what sort of upbringing she'd had and what she had and hadn't been allowed to do. Still, she was pleased that she'd asked the young woman's opinion, even if she did suggest a terrifying course of action. In the scheme of things, as terrifying as the ropes seemed, they were probably a lot safer than the paths - ledges really - to the sides. It was just the fact that taking the ropes meant not having anything truly solid beneath her, nothing properly grounded at least. But she was supposed to be braver now, she knew that. She was supposed to face things that she was terrified of because they terrified her. Face it, endure it and sarding suck it up! That's how it was meant to go.

Caius was angry, illogically so it seemed to the Eídisi because his girlfriend had a bloody good point. Both women were indeed lighter and the nobleman obviously had a better idea how climbing worked. The fact that they couldn't intuitively understand what he was saying should have been indication enough. She wasn't going to blindly place her faith in the Gawyne because frankly, she knew just how much he could screw something up. Just because this was vitally important didn't mean that his arrogance wouldn't get in the way. Her own arrogance didn't come into it, there was no sense of hypocrisy in the scholar's mind because she never thought about it. The blue-skinned woman had already made up her mind, already determined her course of action and only Caius was worth her scrutiny; only his actions and words were questionable in her eyes.

She nodded her silent agreement to Darcy's statement, firm in her resolve but it seemed that there would be no time to check things over. Instead, Alucard moved forward almost at once to tie the rope around her, tethering her to the noblewoman and drawing a shiver from her in response to the cold that seeped in and her own apprehension. Nausea rose within her, stomach beginning to roil as if it was preparing to spill its meagre contents all over the ground. The young woman took deep breaths, allowing air to fill her lungs and forced herself to concentrate on the sensations. How her lungs expanded in her chest and deflated as she exhaled, the steady stream of air through her nostrils and the escaped breaths from her mouth. Focusing on such simple things was centring, calming, grounding. It didn't chase the fear away or keep it entirely at bay but allowed her to focus on something complex that her body engaged in without any thought on her part; it was soothing to meditate on it.

As the blonde woman began to move and Maebella felt the insistent tug of the rope, she tried to broaden her concentration a little. She focused on the movements of her legs, the way her feet rose and fell, the conscious thought behind her actions to place her hands here or there. There was no need to look down because she could feel with her feet and with her hands, and in fact, she closed her eyes, doing her best to centre her world only on the ropes. The ropes were the floor to her now, it didn't matter what was below them, or the lack of anything below them. It was just her and what her body touched. It almost allowed her to forget where she was and what situation she was in, at least if she could ignore the chill from below that seemed to move from beneath her, wiggling through the gap that the First Ranger had left in her cloak.

When the tearing sound came, her eyes flew open but it was too late to fully process what was happen, mere trills passing before she was dragged through a newly opened hole in... she didn't even know what. All she knew was that she was tugged through it violently, paralysing her lungs so that she her mouth was trapped in a scream that began loudly and was almost noiseless when until she suddenly hit the ground, knocking what little oxygen remained out of her painfully. To go from the position she had been in where moving her arms was a bad idea to this one where she had to break her fall was not a smooth transition and so while she managed to turn her face away, she thumped down heavily on her shoulder. It sent shockwaves down her arm from the socket, eliciting a mewl of pain as she felt it gingerly, rolling it experimentally while pulling a face. The fact that she could move it was probably a good sign, or at least she hoped; unfortunately, the young woman knew next to nothing about medicine.

However, as the noblewoman spoke, asking her if she was all right, her awareness stretched beyond herself for the first time. Perhaps it was the change in Darcy's voice that clued her in first, the difference in how it bounced around the space that they were in. However, the evidence of her eyes was clear enough: they were in a new room and their companions were nowhere to be seen.

There has to be a logical explanation for this, she thought instantly, as she saw panic blossom in the other woman and felt it threaten to begin in her. Her eyes moved slowly about her, reasoning that whatever they'd come through must have been small enough to take only them, which was why the men was here. The other possibilities were that something bad had happened that they'd survived and the other two had- She squashed the thought firmly. No, she'd assume that they were alive but elsewhere until some evidence told her something to the contrary. Instead, she stood, unfastening the rope from around her middle as she peered around her curiously.

There was no peril here, only knowledge and the Eídisi found herself utterly enthralled by it. This was what she'd expected her, this was what she'd hoped for. Books, tomes upon countless tomes were arrayed all around her and it was with some disappointment that she found them unreadable to her when she stepped close to one of the shelves for a closer examination. The young woman knew a few languages, at least at a rudimentary level and had hoped to find something that she could read. Even her knowledge of Leni would have been something that she would have expected to come in handy as this place was apparently named for the Ellune's Immortal. Alas, it was all indecipherable to her.

When Darcy commented rather obviously that it was a library, she couldn't help aiming a rather deadpan stare in her direction. "Evidently," she retorted dryly, her voice humourless as she went back to her examination, only glancing to the side again when her knowledge was called upon. She shook her head. "I know a number of things about languages but these don't look like anything I know but then who knows how old this place is? Who knows? Perhaps it's passed out of living memory for the most part. Caius said he found the name in a book and Alucard... well, I don't know. He knows something, more than he's saying, I mean."

It felt odd to voice her concerns to this woman who was as great a stranger to her as the First Ranger was but the Gawyne evidently trusted her and that probably counted for something.

She would have continued to go through the books, perhaps find something that appeared to be a precursor to a familiar language but her companion pulled her from her contemplation again. There was a flash of annoyance before she considered the situation and felt horror at her own thoughts and actions. Alucard and Caius had become trivial concerns in the face of this knowledge and she'd been happy to ignore the fact that they might be in peril or need the women to come find them. Hastily, trying to push down her guilt, she moved to her side to peer at the map that she'd found, frowning at the twisting mass of labyrinthine passages and wondering how they were ever to find anything on it all.

The daggers weren't too difficult for her to pull. She was stronger than Darcy and once she got a good firm grip on one, it wasn't too hard to wrench it out with a strong tug. She took two and allowed the noblewoman to keep the other two. She was about to voice a question about what they ought to do next when the blonde bumped into her with a shriek that elicited a similar sound from the Eídisi's lips. However, it took the work of a moment to find out what the fuss was about and then she made a sound of disgust, moving to the body with greater speed than the girl so she could peer down at the corpse.

"He's only dead. You'd think you'd never seen anything dead before," she remarked coolly. "I've had to help dig around in cadavers and believe me, this is far less disgusting. Admittedly, they were animals but they were also rotting and they'd been sitting in water so frankly, this isn't too bad. Expected in fact. I suppose it might give some explanation to..." she trailed off with a shake of her head. This wasn't the time to voice the thoughts she'd had about the items ending up in the chest. There would be a logical explanation. Maybe the whole party had died here after all and they'd simply chosen to leave their records in storage and simply... wander away...

The scholar crouched down beside the corpse, seeking the cause of the man's death as she reached out to try to pry the journal from his dead fingers. Perhaps he could provide them with answers that Alucard had failed to give. Maybe they'd get some explanation to that odd little riddle: Two to One, Freezing.

"Hm? Oh, I haven't looked but I suppose if there's a way in, there must be a way out. It'd be pretty pointless otherwise, wouldn't it. Plus, there'd no doubt be more dead here if there was no exit," Maebella commented, fingers pausing in her act of pilfering as she peered around, noting the oddly beautiful colours around her but not finding her gaze drawn to any way out. Then again, they hadn't noticed the cadaver initially either.

"Do you want a hand getting that armour off or can you manage? I don't know that it's important but this might be," she pointed out as she went back to work on the dead fingers. Amazing that his hands had managed to lock into such a position, fascinating really.
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Postby Djinn » Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:53 pm

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"I never said my wishes were supposed to do any good," said the Djinn...

91 Zi'da 717
The Tundra north of Viden


The scrolls that lined the glittering cavern were numerous, but none of them drew the attention of the two women quite like the second field journal. This one, with no name on it, was clasped by cold, dead fingers. But Maebella's insistence on removing it proved too powerful for the perfectly frozen coprse, and after a moment, the journal broke loose. Darcyanna, who'd been busy loosening the ties holding the armour on jumped as the body creaked, but nothing happened.

Armed with their choices from the chest, and two daggers each now, they would have been more than equipped if the walls opened and spit forth a never-ending stream of beasts to consume them for disturbing the dead. Strangely, though they both did not know it, that very thought crossed both their minds at the same time. They were armed, but were they prepared.

The map of the cave system showed ten chambers, each connected by either a square denoting a doorway, or a dotted line denoting a strange way through. Looking at it, Maebella understood that directly, and there were only dotted lines around the chamber she and Darcyanna were in, as well as the far side of the chamber they'd come from. There was also a door on both sides of that cavern, where they presumed Caius and Alucard would have to take into the connected chamber, which had little black X's, thirteen of them, scribbled.




Alucard swung along the rope, crashing heavily into the icy wall. Grimacing, the man slammed his pickaxe in and pulled, yanking and slamming it back into the ice to gain a few inches every time. It was slow going, and if either man could feel cold, he gave no indication. Instead, Caius stood there, arm outstretched, waiting for Alucard to get close enough to pull him to safety. It took bits, easily, and the old First Ranger weezed as he drew close enough for Caius to grasp. He extended his hand, and gripped Caius' with both when they grasped. He'd left the ice axe behind, but it was a small price to pay for survival.

Caius pulled him up, and the two men lied on the far side of the chasm, gasping. Alucard looked over, eyes dark and half-closed, and nodded briefly in thanks. He sat up, his chest heaving, and nodded towards the door at the end of the platform. Standing with a grunt, he lifted Caius from a nearly prone position.

"C'mon then, lad. We ain't dead. Yet." Caius couldn't feel the cold, but the final word sent a shiver through his spine far more chilling than any cold in the North. Alucard drew his weapon and began down the path, which was long and winding.




The field journal was propped open on the dais, with both women standing over it. Far less coherent than the previous one, this one was a jumble of thoughts and words, some completed, some not, some in a language that Maebella recognized as Leni, a pidgin language developed by the Ellune working in Viden. At least one of the rangers that had attempted to traverse the ten caverns was an Ellune, and had penned this journal, if not the other too. Her scarce knowledge gave her a little insight, but there were some things she couldn't make out.

"We lost one to the cold. Fell into chasm. He reappeared in the first room, but his left leg was frozen..." It stated. Two to One, Freezing. It clicked for both women, and whomever had added it to the first field journal understood the grave implications of the chasm in the previous chamber. It wasn't death to fall into it. Not a quick one.

"This room... It's a library of sorts. Hrivar calls it the Heart Chamber, but there is no heart in here. Only the freezing cold. Only the cold," it continued, and below it was a drawing of the Heart Room. It looked exactly as the two women were seeing it, even with the body in the corner. The man who drew it drew himself into the chamber, and on it, it indicated the scrolls on the dais next to the maps, each with a number. 1, 2, 4. Underneath, a hastily scrawled note.

"1... Made me warmer.
2... allowed Hrivar to cut through the ice like he was made of hot iron...
4... Fucking Yvithia! She became a godsdamned ghost, walked right through the godsdamned walls!"


Looking up, Darcy and Maebella saw the scrolls, still sitting as they were labeled. There was no sound in the room, other than the beating of both of their hearts. And the final note, it was the strangest. A drawing of a dog-like creature made from ice, but massive, was there, etched with razor edges. Below it, a word in Leni that neither recognized.

"Krezveni." Must have been its name. They hoped.




They walked, silently, in each other's company. Nearly dying had fostered something in the two men, and when Alucard glanced back to ensure that Caius was still there, he wasn't looking like he would at the nuisance of a child, as he had since Caius first opened his mouth. The ice-like fracture on Caius' chest meant he was chosen, and it ignited something in Alucard, the noble boy could tell.

Still, though, Alucard was focused on the mission, fellow Ezere or not. Now that Alucard was safe, and neither had died in the pit, they had to find where Darcyanna and Maebella had gone... Though neither was sure that the women were alive, they had to proceed on the basis that they were. As they rounded a corner, they both saw a widening maw at the end, giving them hope that the women were in the chamber just beyond. With a glance back, Alucard began to nearly run to the opening, Caius hot on his tail.

As they drew closer, though, the First Ranger stopped hard in his tracks, nearly toppling forward from his momentum. Caius slowed behind him, and when he got to Alucard's level, they both peered into the room. Caius' breath stuck in his throat, as he'd never seen anything like them.

About the size of large cats, the beasts looked as if they'd been carved from the ice surrounding them. Colours danced along their bodies, and as each movement, the cracking of the ice over a pond was heard. They were communicating, the two realized, but not in language either recognized. The thirteen ice beasts faced away from them, moving slowly and grating their bodies to speak. It was a low tumult, and Alucard leaned close to Caius, his stinky breath hot on the noble's face.

"Thinkin' we could sneak right by 'em, if'n we're real quiet. Ye should feel Ziell's power in yer blood now, boy. If'n ye can, try to walk with the quietness of the snowfall." Alucard's voice was low, but it was instructive. Caius knew the man knew what he was talking about. As they traveled, slowly, the beasts grated and echoed along the chamber, which looked to be some sort of cavernous housing to the creatures. None of them turned, none of them sensed the two men creeping along behind them. It did not stop Alucard from brandishing his weapon, always at the ready.

When they reached the far side of the room, though, the wall of ice was closed and empty, solid. Alucard frowned and looked at Caius, indicating the wall. He turned back to face the ice beasts, leaving Caius, obviously the thinker of the two, to examine the wall. When he did, he saw he slickness of the ice, unperturbed. Along its surface, small ice crystals had formed every, a dewy armour of crystals covering the integrity of the wall. Looking closely, though, Caius saw something was strange.

There was a small portion of the wall whose crystals were smaller than the others, perhaps as if more newly formed. A small circular area, with five extensions coming off, and all surrounded by larger crystals. Alucard hissed back, whispering to Caius.

"Figure it out, my Lord. We're gonna be in a shit hole of shit in a trill," he muttered, and when Caius checked over his shoulder, he saw the strangely humanoid-shaped head of the ice beast turned toward Alucard. Just looking at it sent trepidation through the nerves in his body. He had ti figure it out... And quickly.




The women searched around the Heart Cavern but there was nothing, no exit, no hidden doorway, no tear. They stood there, checking the scrolls and tomes along the walls, but everything seemed in place. They were stuck in the Heart Cavern, exactly as the man who had held the Field Journal had been.

They might soon be joining him.

Off Topic
Okay. Little clarification here.

Maebella, you may NOT choose one of the three scrolls remaining, since you grabbed the Map.

Darcyanna, you may choose ONE of the three scrolls on the table. Choose wisely.

Caius, you have 1 round to figure out the wall before being attacked by 13 ice beasts. Good luck.


"In fact, I swore they would always do as much harm as possible."
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Moondream

Postby Caius Gawyne » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:04 pm

There was no space to panic. Alucard caught the rope and began to climb, his weight on the lanky Gawyne enough to elicit a groan of effort. He stared at the scarred man as he used his pickaxe and brute strength to slowly make his way toward the ledge. Caius' thoughts bled out of his mouth in a cloud of steam,

"What the fuck is happening? Are they dead? What is on me—in me—my chest!—what is that? Am I dying? I'm supposed to, you know—die—to-trial. I've known this date since I was a boy—oh, bogs—how did we get here—where did Darcy and Mae go—why are we here—who the hell are you?" His words were quiet, barely above a whisper, spoken with each ragged, exhaled breath through clenched teeth as he strained to support the First Ranger and his perilous climb, "I don't actually want to—I fucking got married yester-trial by the Empress—you wouldn't know who that is, anyway—fuck if it matters now—what is on my chest? Is that ice—am I freezing to death? What—I've seen so much shit—I almost died enough already—seriously, how did we get here—Alucard—oh—"

He squeezed a lifetime of words into a handful of bits, expression almost deadpan but his irises a wild cacophony of colors. Finally, Alucard—who rightfully ignored his panicked ramblings—reached his meaty hand toward the northern noble who hissed and grabbed for him, too-warm fingers curling around experience-hardened flesh. Pulling him up took strength Caius didn't know he had, and once he'd hefted him, it was all he could do to not fall over. Only he did, and he couldn't help but lay there, confused, exhausted, and wanting to cry like the spoiled child he often pretended to be.

While tears clung to the sides of his eyes, he simply breathed, heart blazing to burst forth from his narrow chest and the molten lead that flowed in his veins burning with painful cruelty over the protesting muscles of his whole body,

"For Fate's sake." He groaned, wanting answers, wanting to understand, wanting—

The First Ranger gave him no quarter, suddenly appearing over his prone form and shoving a hand back at him, telling him to get up, reminding him that he wasn't dead.

Yet.

But to-trial was the day.

Caius hissed an exhale through clenched teeth as he allowed the other man to help him up, growing quiet, shoving everything away from his mind just as he'd shoved the chaos of the end of Vhalar deep into the cracks of his restless, sleepless soul.

He followed the man, adjusting the pack over his shoulders and curling fingers that were no longer cold around the hilt of the weapon he'd taken from the chest across the chasm. When their running over the slick ground was cut short, it was all the young Gawyne could do to not crash through Alucard, scuffling with effort to stay upright. He couldn't breathe, peering over the man's broad shoulder—what in the name of the Seven were those? Ice creatures. Glowing. Crackling.

Sneak? Ziell's power?

Alucard was talking and Caius looked at him as if his face had become beautiful, blinking and confused. He listened, he tried to understand. How did the First Ranger know the Immortal he claimed as his great grandfather? How did he know anything about—

Snowfall. Quietness.

If the young Gawyne understood nothing else about this entire experience, he knew how that felt. He could picture it for a moment, inhaling slowly, thinking back to a lifetime ago in Umbridge. Vhalar's first snows blanketed all of the barony, falling softly and filling the mountains with silence. He closed his eyes, his heart racing in desperation to leave his chest still, and thought of home, felt the silence of fat, fluffy snowflakes and that white blanket of nothingness. Opening his eyes again, he followed Alucard, glancing at the creatures in unfiltered terror. He realized, however, that the pair of men made no sound. Biting his lip, he longed for a single moment to process, but as they snuck miraculously past the beasts, Caius glancing at the entire chamber, counting them, he glanced upward and behind them, still in awe of their silence despite the grating, strange sounds of the beasts.

But then, they hit a wall. Literally.

The northern noble swallowed a groan, feeling panic rise like a heavy fist from his stomach. He blinked as the First Ranger spoke again, about to open his mouth to fumble over an objection to the possibility, but then one of the beasts looked at them and his eyes widened.

Caius mouthed some silent curses, quickly whirling back on the icy, crystal-covered wall, running his fingers over it in desperation for a handle or a lever or some sign of a crack. He knew the surface was cold, but it bothered him not. His fingers didn't ache with the chill, and it was the most curious sensation. He saw it first, the strange indentation where the crystals were shorter, their shape creating what looked like a natural outline of a five-fingered hand. There was a circular area for his palm and smaller indents that could fit his fingers.

Tugging off his glove with his teeth and resisting the urge to draw the sword at his hip with the other, he let his eyes flutter closed for a moment, wordless prayers to his ancestors, to Warren, and to the Immortal's name who still chilled his thoughts, Ziell. Anyone would do. Anyone who wanted to help them, to help him. Opening his eyes again, he pressed his hand in the space, pushing in hopes that he could find some method of use, desperate to get them away from far too many ice beasts than the two of them could possibly handle together.

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Postby Darcyanna Venora » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:26 pm

91st Zi’da, 717

He's only dead. You'd think you'd never seen anything dead before.

Garrud’s face flashed before her eyes, giving Darcy a sudden rush of nausea and causing her ever lingering need to surge like a flare in the dark. Her face paled, even as she distracted herself with the ties on the armour.

“I can manage.” The blonde muttered softly, trying to suppress the sudden panic that burned in her. This, this was the final day. Caius, her husbands final day. For a season, she had been so lost, so far absorbed by the shock and disbelief.

Immortals, fucking Immortals.

The blonde had lied to herself, to Caius when she said she didn’t believe in Immortals. They existed, and they were as real as the stories said, but denying them made it feel like they were just..fairytales.

Fairytales that toyed with mortal lives.

As the book came loose in Mae’s hands, the Venora jumped with a gasp, waiting for the dead man to come to life. Nothing happened, and so taking the chest piece from the ranger, she removed her backpack and her coat quickly to replicate the tying of it back onto her own self, ignoring the cold as her fingers trembled doing it up. Vaguely she envisioned the walls breaking open and a swarm of beasts descending on them. At least they were better equipped now.

Walking to the dais where the journal now lay open as she tugged her coat and bag back on, Darcyanna skimmed her pale eyes over the words, feeling her stomach turn at the mention of the chasm. So if they’d fallen into it...two to one, freezing. The pianist shuddered, pulling her cloak closer.

“The Heart Chamber. Look, the numbers...” She glanced up at the scrolls, placing them in position with the notes. Turning back to the book again she read the word out loud, completely wrong and as though a question to the other woman.

“Krez...veni?” Walking away from the dais, Darcy stared at the walls. She ran her hands over them. Her breathing sped up as the Venora moved around the room. Searching for a way out, searching for anything.

“This is sarding useless! Caius?! CAIUS??!!” The blonde yelled loudly, moving back to the table and leaning on it heavily. She looked around in a panic, pale eyes wide.

“I can’t stay here trapped in a fucking library Maebella! Not when he’s out there...he might be...he could be...bogs!” Gasping as her chest constricted with worry and fear, Darcyanna pressed a hand to her forehead and squeezed her eyes shut.

“We need to get out. That map shows us right here yes? That...presuming they aren’t de...aren’t dead then that is where Caius and Alucard are?” It was a statement rather then a question, opening her eyes and thrusting a finger at the map. Grabbing the second scroll in her hand with a growl, the pale creature shook it.

“Per the journal, scroll two allowed one of the men to cut through the ice like he was made of hot iron. Well, these walls are ice. That wall is ice.” Quickly she unrolled it, eyes scanning the contents before rolling it tightly in her hand. Storming to the one in question, Darcyanna drew one of the daggers in her free hand and holding the scroll tightly she stabbed it into the wall.

Hopefully, it worked.
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Postby Maebella » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:38 pm

She wiggled at the journal and it broke free, the young woman eyeing it apprehensively as it gave an ominous creak; she expected the whole thing to collapse inwards before her. However, while it did not, Darcy's jolt did nothing to steady her nerves. She shot her a glare, lips pursed firmly together. She turned the journal over in her hands, examining the outside of it as her companion donned the armour. She supposed that it was fair for her to wear it when she'd been the one to take it off the dead man. Her cloak wouldn't do much good against an attack but yet she felt safe in it, despite logic dictating that it should be otherwise. Not that they were going to run into anything because there didn't seem to be any natural entry to this place. However, given what they possessed, she hoped that they were prepared for anything.

Carrying the journal to the dais, she set it down. Now they had two potential sources of information, the map and the journal. With them both set out, she hoped that they'd be able to make some sense of them as they compared them to one another. She traced lines on the map, frowning as she glanced up at the room and compared the broken lines to what was around her. Working out roughly where they'd come through, she supposed that they were less than conventional entrances and from what she could tell, there were only unconventional portals in this room.

"These marks here seem to denote an unusual way in, akin to what we came through. I don't know if they all work the same way and I don't know if some are entrances and other exits but we'll have to think our way out of here," she explained, tracing the unusual lines for the noblewoman's benefit before she examined the journal's contents, turning the pages slowly. Some of it was in Common but it wasn't the only language and she wasn't sure if Darcy could read Leni. Her own knowledge of it was limited but she read what she could of it aloud, piecing the jumbled thoughts together as best as she could, rubbing her forehead as the frustration of such limited understanding took its toll. It was more than frustrating though because what she read was grim and worrisome. The scholar didn't point out that if Caius or Alucard had fallen into the chasm that they weren't necessarily dead, but the alternative didn't seem much better. She couldn't imagine what sort of repercussions a condition like that would have on the body in the short-term or the long-term. It seemed like one of those times when it was best to keep her mouth shut and so she did.

The notes about the scrolls seemed peculiar and if there was truth in what they said then there was more to them than met the eye. They were magical, it seemed and she remained thoughtful as she continued to struggle with the words written before her. The ice beasts sent a shiver down her, perhaps eliciting greater horror within her because she couldn't understand the word that seemed to be their name. Hearing Darcy try to voice it made her wince as if it was ill luck to even attempt it, as if it painted a target on them.

The Eídisi might have considered examining the scrolls with greater interest if the blonde hadn't started screaming at the walls, seemingly on the edge of hysterics. The blue-skinned woman approached her cautiously, shushing her softly as if she was a spooked animal rather than a person. "Easy, Darcy. Be easy! Crying out won't do any good! Calm down and think things through for a bit or two." When she returned to the dais, still a little wild-eyed, the youth regarded her with a determined, white gaze, ready to administer a slap if it proved necessary to knock her out of whatever private suffering she was enduring in her head and into the here and now. Maebella had no intention of striking her hard, certainly not put her full force behind it as she'd done when she'd hit Jevan. Thankfully, it didn't prove necessary as the worst of the attack abated.

"Yes, we're here and in theory, Alucard and Caius should be right there, yes, and if we could get through this way then- Darcy,what are you doing?" she questioned, watching as the other stormed past her with a scroll in hand. "Yes, it did say that, something like that but we don't know if it's safe! We don't know what happened to that man! Who's to say that he didn't burn up and leave the scroll intact?" she called out as she dashed after the woman.

As she watched, Darcy drew one of the daggers and attacked the ice wall with her scroll. It might well work and thus, she drew a dagger too, one hand fingering the sharp stone in her pocket, the magic it had once contained spent but still, she felt drawn to it like a talisman.
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Moondream

Postby Djinn » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:00 pm

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"I never said my wishes were supposed to do any good," said the Djinn...

91 Zi'da 717
The Tundra north of Viden


Alucard's weapon waved menacingly, keeping the wary ice beasts at bay. They had started to close in on the two Ezere, slowly approaching in a large pack to surround them in a semi-circle. At the same time Caius begged his ancestors and Ziell to save him, Alucard turned and looked at him briefly, his eyebrows raised in surprise. He said nothing, instead turning back to keep the creatures at bay.

Caius tugged the glove off, and the cold air that hit his hand felt like a cool breeze, nothing more. It wasn't cold. It sent no shiver through his body, but instead he felt drawn to the icy wall, his hand opening and splaying the fingers to match the vague shape in the wall. With a glance back to Alucard, and the all-too-close ice monsters, Caius placed his hand on the wall.

And it moved.




They heard it first... Darcyanna's dagger plunged into the icy wall, the contact with the scroll allowing the small blade to plunge into the wall up to the hilt. She turned it slightly and pulled, yanking a chunk from the wall. It wasn't difficult, but attacking the wall in such a way would be time consuming. Though if the grinding, heavily-pulling sound was any indication, it was working. Thank the Fates, it was working.

Maebella, hearing and feeling the success of the pretty blonde's labours, joined in, touching the scroll with a blue finger and chipping away at the wall. It was tediously slow, and it was just as likely they'd die of hunger or thirst before they ever made it through the wall to Caius or Alucard. The grinding, however, grew louder, so they increased the tempo, slamming the dagger blades in and chipping off pieces as they furiously tried to get back to the rest of their party. They wouldn't die like that ranger.

They wouldn't.




All too fucking slowly, the wall creaked open. The ice beasts, upon feeling the rumble, gathered in a swarm and increased their pace, rushing towards the two men. From above them, a massive chunk of ice fell from the ceiling, plummeting toward the ground where the beasts were gathering. It slammed into it, throwing a few of the beasts in the air. When they landed on the chunk of ice, those, something strange happened. All thirteen of the beasts congregated, melding and fusing into the icy boulder. As soon as they did, the thing rumbled and moved, climbing to a massive height, towering over the two men menacingly.

What was once thirteen little beasts just fused to become one massive icy golem, its glittering body distracting from the true danger it presented. A gargantuan foot rose and fell, shaking the cavern as it took a step towards them. The wall behind Caius was agonizingly slow, and while they have held the smaller beasts at bay long enough, they stood no chance against the frozen behemoth in front of them. Alucard swore, the string of expletives echoing into Caius' body cavity, reverberating in him.

"Treid's frozen balls. Run, boy. Now. Rather be squished by a wall than a fuckin' ice statue." He didn't even wait for Caius to respond, he just turned and kicking him into the opening mouth of the wall. The lumbering hulk moved behind them, jagged shards of ice rising where the two had been standing trills before. Alucard's leg didn't quite make it out of the radius, and a deep gash spattered hot blood all over the ground behind them. Without flinching, the First Ranger grabbed Caius by his shirt and hoisted, setting him on his feet and pushing him again.

"Run, gods dammit." The First Ranger growled. The creature behind them lumbered into the opening passage, barely fitting as its body grated on the walls around it. It kept widening, though, and so Caius ran, a step behind the wall as it opened as if to surround him, to protect him as a sheathe of ice. If only it could protect him from the lumbering monstrosity behind them.




Sweat poured down their brows, the labour making the cold a thing of the past. Each slammed a dagger in, each yanked it out, pulling a sliver of icy wall with them. The grinding grew more intense, and they felt as if they were making progress, even if it did not appear so. So they worked, quiet grunts elicited from the force of each stab into the ice. Darcyanna, growing in her frustrations, drew the minute dagger back and slammed it in, harder than she had.

Except the wall wasn't there. Caius was.

The maw of the wall opened and spit the two men out, as if they had soured its palate. In the moment the partition was open, Maebella and Darcyanna saw the massive ice beast, and their breath got stuck in their chests. As soon as Caius and Alucard were out, though, the wall slammed shut, either destroying or encasing the amalgamation of ice beasts. Darcyanna's dagger stopped just short of her husband's heart, and it quivered there as she tried to determine if what she was seeing was real or not.

Until he embraced her.

His warmth spread through her, and the two of them stood there in each other's arms for only a few trills, but it felt as if it were arcs. They had been separated, both thinking the other dead, and their reunion was one of tears and fear. Alucard, rather than growl and force them on, gave them their space, instead turning to Maebella as he examined the cavern.

"Ye fell inta here, then? Coulda been way worse, I'm thinkin'," he muttered, thinking about the gigantic conglomeration of beasts that chased them into the Heart Cavern. He shivered, not from the cold, and looked around. As Maebella brought him up to speed on what they knew, Alucard nodded, gritting his rotting teeth in his mouth.

"Aye, makes sense as ta why he died. Ye need four. Lucky us," he stated, and the three of them got the feeling that he knew they'd need four bodies. They also got the feeling then that Alucard had no intentions of following or leading them this far, but that Yolande's exit from the mission had demanded his presence. He was either a coward, or much more than he appeared to be. Little did they know...

He was both.

He examined the Field Journal, his eyes flitting over it, then back to the group. Seeing the scroll in Darcyanna's hand, he nodded, holding out a hand for it. It came to him reluctantly, but she knew it was for the best. He immediately angled his arm to hand it to Caius, who looked surprised but took it.

"Are ye cold? No? Then shut yer damn gourd an' take that," he said to the Lord Arbiter. The heating scroll passed to Darcy, and immediately, the cold abated. She felt her body temperature rise to meet the cold, and for the first time since they'd woken up, she felt relatively normal. Relatively.

He took the map from Maebella, holding it in pale hands as he examined it. Rather than roll it up and hand it back to her, though, he presented her with the other scroll, which made her feel weird and weightless. She didn't float or fly, but she felt as if her material form were paper-thin and easily shed. Nodding, he turned toward the far wall, the one without the ice beast embedded within.

Hopefully.

"All of ye, c'mere," he instructed, once again taking on his role as leader. Bristling or not, the group did so, and the wall in front of them opened, more quickly than the previous but just as loudly. Smiling in triumph, which was the stuff of children's nightmares, the group realized, Alucard led them forward. The trek was not nearly as perilous as his last adventure through a wall, but Alucard remained alert.




The wall had spit them out in a massive chamber, divided down the center by a thirty foot high wall of pure ice. Alucard stood before it, admiring its sheer size, neck craned to see the top. Looking back to the group, he frowned.

"Looks ta me ta be supportin' the roof in some spots. We can try to climb it, but none o' us are equipped an' I left me axe back there," he said. He held the map and looked, his icy eyes concentrating on the room. His jaw clenched, but his eyes lit up.

"Unless... We could try to get through a small piece. Corner, and then run like the devils to get out in case it falls..." He looked back to them, allowing them their discourse on the subject. He may be the leader, but he'd let them choose their own deaths.


"In fact, I swore they would always do as much harm as possible."
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Djinn
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