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Chapter VII: Revelations



Hoping the argument would die down soon, Asher contemplated about sharing some of the information he had gathered. Before that ever happened, they saw a white wolf soar through the sky, which was then followed by several other natural or unnatural disasters.

Though the snow and the cold were problematic by themselves, but now that they faced winged wolves, earthquakes, avalanches, the Taint... Asher started to truly miss the firm stone streets of a city, with rats being the only heralds of trouble.

"This damn mountain will be the end of us." Asher muttered to himself and went to follow the others, unsure how wise it was to rush in these conditions.
 

Wolf Rawrrr

Wolf-Knight
Date: October 12th (Sunday), year 3321
Location: The Frostback Mountains
Weather: Overcast, gloomy, and cold.


  • Around 14:00 h
    Somewhere in the Frostback Mountains



    With the mountain finally still once more, the Chosen were able to continue their journey; first along the ridge that they had climbed, then steadily upwards again, ever higher and deeper into the Frostbacks. For nearly two hours (as Laurolf, who had an impeccable sense of time, informed them) the group trudged through pockets of deep snow, or made their way carefully across stretches of frozen rock, all the while defying the bitter cold and the wind that assailed them for most of that duration. The ordeal was enough to take a toll even on the strongest of them, like Carn and Laurolf, or Violet despite her elven endurance and survival training - but on the likes of Maggie and Dina the effect was much more pronounced. Dina in particular seemed like she wouldn't be able to go on for much longer. The girl had grown very quiet, and the pace of her footsteps became ever slower.

    Somehow, Violet managed to keep them on track. The most obvious tracks had been erased by the avalanches, but even when Laurolf himself could hardly discern any proof of the passage of the dragonhunters anymore, Violet would still point the way, her white eyes full of renewed resolution as she rose to her feet again and again from some patch of ground that caught her attention. The clues came more sporadic than ever, were harder to read, but she found them. For half a dozen times the elf stopped the group to lead them left or right, following some path visible only to her. For half a dozen times she turned out to be right, though even Laurolf himself frowned skeptically at some of her directions.

    Then the tracks ended at a literal wall. The snowy ground gave way to a vertical wall of rock, way too steep to climb and impossible to go around, for both to the left and to the right the way ended in a cliff beyond which there was nothing but a long, long way down. Right in the middle, however, was a giant pile of snow and rock - evidently an avalanche had rolled down from the peak above them, spilling onto the path and beyond.

    "There has to be something behind all this snow," Violet reasoned. "Some kind of passage or opening. They couldn't have gone any other way."

    Laurolf sighed, frowning as he examined the scene. The short and heavy dwarf had to struggle to make his way closer. "That's not just snow, y'know? There'll be plenty of rock in there as well... And even if we were to somehow clear the way, the passage might have caved in altogether."

    "But we have to try, don't we? I don't see another way," Violet answered, looking back at where Dina, Maggie, and Asher stood behind them. She looked worried.
 

Rekai Leon

New Member
Faron Firestorm

- The Fiery Brawler -

Faron was near the middle of the bridge when the hunters encountered the dragon for the second time. Although the Drakkar had anticipated that, he couldn't help but have a short panic attack before calming down. "That dragon is smart..." he thought as it had put them in to a position that was neither ideal for offense nor defense. Normally, he would call forth his Magma Golem to deal with an enemy that was significantly larger than himself, but he could not in that situation because the strong seismic activities from the spell would certainly collapse the bridge. Faron then realized that he would have to rely on his agility to defeat the dragon. He quickly ignited his gauntlets and got into the defensive stance.
 

ParrotParfait

A White Budgerigar Chillin'
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


The walk had calmed Carn’s anxieties to a degree. However, some worry continued to linger, especially when the dragon hunter’s tracks began to fade and Violet’s directions became at best unclear. When they arrived at the wall, Carn gave an audible snort to sound his displeasure before examining the area for anything that could resume their march. However, neary a glance was needed for Carn to mutter under his breath some curses at his disappointment.
"But we have to try, don't we? I don't see another way," Violet answered

Indeed, out of everyone there, Carn probably wanted to resume hiking the most. As if to answer Violete’s question, Carn walked up to the large mound, looking the mix of rock and snow up and down as if it were his opponent. Maybe a side swing would cut the mound down a size. Mix in some force magic for good measure, and you’d probably get rid of a lot more. After finding some stable footing and picking a good spot to hit, Carn looked towards Violet.

“Commander, I think I could knock a good chunk of this pile if I hit it just right. Would you be fine with that?” Carn asked, pointing his thumb back at the pile.
 

Andei

Junior Member
Ingvar Sindram
- Seeker of the Maker -​


Though the skin around them were lined with deep wrinkles and weathered by snow, sun and years alike, the dwarf's eyes showed no sign of losing its alertness to age as it flicked between scanning the horizon for threats and watching over the precarious steps of his comrades as they tentatively made their way across the bridge. As such, Ingvar was one of the first to spot the fleeting shift behind the clouds before the dragon came bursting forth out of the sky. There was barely time to register the sinister shadow it cast over both their minds and bodies with its dreadfully broad wings as it unleashed into the sky an unearthly cry - a sound that chilled the ice atop the mountains, rent the frozen wind to ragged whispers and cleft deeper into the bottomless abyss. It spared no moment for so much as the dying beginnings of a half-murmured prayer before it dived at them in a ruinous mass of swift, dark death.

Ingvar wasted no time - as the dragon dipped its head to begin its descent, the dwarf leapt into action, crossing back over the bridge as fast as he could as he yelled at the company members still on the bridge, 'Run, my friends! Behind me, all of you!'

Stopping a little ways from the end of the bridge, but far enough from the middle so that he did not stand above the weakest point of the structure, he faced the incoming beast and hoped that the other hunters had heeded his call to retreat behind him as he lowered his head in prayer. O great Creator, be my shield - if it be your will, defend me and my brothers-in-arms from the oncoming foe!

Touching his fingers together, Ingvar entrusted his fate to the Creator.

___________________________

INGVAR moves in front of as many of the company as possible, and casts Great Divine Shield between them and the incoming dragon.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter



Maggie wistfully remembered the Master Renhart's warm home, left behind what felt like ages ago, and the warmer hospitality of the healer himself. She trudged along in the others' wake, trusting to Violet and Laurolf to guide their progress. Trusting them so much, in fact, that when the group was stopped by the blocked passage, Maggie barely noticed in time to avoid walking into the person ahead of her. "Sorry," she murmured, and looked up at last at the obstacle before them. "Maybe we could climb over it...?" she hazarded, but without much hope, knowing that even getting to the top of the piled-up snow and rock would be difficult, much less trying to scramble across the top of the uneven, freezing-cold-but-not-frozen-solid mess. She found Carn's suggestion much more appealing, and gazed at Violet just as he did. "It would be a help," she offered tiredly. As long as knocking it down doesn't destabilize it right back into another avalanche, this one headed for us.
 



Asher looked around the rubble, looking for any sign of a passage or crevice he might try and pass through.

"Maybe there's a hole on top of the pile we might be able to enter?"


He was thinking of climbing the pile if he saw no entrance from below, but decided to wait and see if the Drakkar might be able to create a way for them through.

Best to take a few steps back in case this mountain has more surprises in store for us. Asher thought to himself while considering what "knocking a good chunk" would do to the stability of the mountain.
 

Wolf Rawrrr

Wolf-Knight
Date: October 12th (Sunday), year 3321
Location: The Frostback Mountains
Weather: Overcast, gloomy, and cold.


  • Around 14:00 h
    Somewhere in the Frostback Mountains



    "I don't think climbing will work," Violet shook her head. "Assuming that there is indeed a tunnel behind this, it wouldn't be more than, what, ten, twenty feet tall? At best? The pileup is bigger than that, not to mention unstable. Though it would be nice if we didn't have to dig through the whole thing... Digging will take time and energy, that's for sure. But... What other choice is there?"

    "I wish Henvei were here," Dina thought out loud. "He could probably melt this whole thing down. We don't have a spare fire mage among us, do we? Or a Miracle that could help? I don't think my talents would be of any use in this situation..."

    "No. Stand back everyone," Violet said. "Let Carn have a go at it, see what progress he can make."

    Carn did, and it went about as could be expected - his fists augmented with Force Sorcery smashed or displaced rocks with some effort, but most of the avalanche had been snow. And swinging at snow wasn't very effective, regardless of how much force you put behind the blows. On top of that, new material fell down to replace what was being removed at the bottom. Still, a little progress was made. Enough to tell that it could feasibly be done. It would just take a lot of time and energy, like Violet and Laurolf both agreed. If the hidden tunnel was tall enough, perhaps they wouldn't have to remove all of the pileup, either.

    Meanwhile, Asher's inspection of the immediate surroundings revealed nothing new. The avalanche certainly did a good job of burying the passage; it involved far more rock and snow than was needed, it seemed. He could not glimpse even a trace, not even a hint of the passage. For all he could tell, they might really have come to a dead end and were trying to dig up snow blocking a sheer rock wall. In fact, it was possible. The tracks weren't perfect, and if the presumed tunnel opening was small enough, Carn might have to dig in several different spots before he found it...

    "Does anyone see any kind of plant anywhere?" Dina asked while Carn was busy pummeling. "A flower? A shrub? Anything?" She started to look herself, moving away from the wall and the pileup, looking this way and that across the frozen ground.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
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Maggie stared up at the wall of ice blocking their path, its sheer size finally penetrating her cold-fogged brain. "The offensive Miracles I know are light, and lightning," she replied to Dina's question. "They're really designed to combat demons, or at least single targets. This is... rather bigger than I think I can affect." She sighed and gave the other girl an apologetic look before turning to watch Carn's progress, such as it was. If that was their only option, it didn't look like they would be finding the tunnel anytime soon... Dina's next question pulled her from that depressing thought. "I'll look," the priestess volunteered, and did so, checking the areas Dina wasn't, poking into piles of snow that might be hiding buried vegetation. Maker, let us find something she can use, she prayed silently. The more she uses her nature powers, the less hold the Taint may have on her. Please, Maker.
 

ParrotParfait

A White Budgerigar Chillin'
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


Encouraging, isn’t it?” Carn thought sarcastically, taking the Queen’s wistful thinking as a jab at Carn’s idea. He attempted to brush off his annoyance by accepting the fact that he too wished there was some other method to reduce the snow pile, one that didn’t whittle away at his stamina. He was appreciative to hear Maggie's desire to help, but alas, as it was, she did not have anything that could help, and so when Violet gave the okay, Carn began chipping away at the pile of snow. (Dina’s comment still irked him)

As the minutes passed as Carn continued to punch away, he felt a growing heaviness in his body, likely compounded from the mountain hike and thin, icy air. As of now, the fatigue he feels now wouldn't hinder him during battle, but if he were to continue digging? That reality was more than enough for him to start reconsidering. Due to the sounds of the falling snow and crunching rocks, Carn wasn’t able to fully process Dina's quick question.
 

Wolf Rawrrr

Wolf-Knight
Whether with the Maker's guidance or perhaps just blind luck, after a little while of searching through the lifeless snowy landscape Maggie succeeded in finding something. It wasn't much, but a barely noticeable splash of dark green moss seemed to grow along the cliff's edge, away from the rest of the group. It was enough to easily grab Dina's attention; the girl rushed over to Maggie as soon as she found out.

"Perfect," she said, her enthusiasm not dampened in the least by how minor a discovery it was. She maneuvered carefully around the ledge and then knelt down in the snow, reaching out until she could touch the moss. She let out a breath of air and went quiet. Her eyes closed. Occasionally, her lips would move as if forming some soundless whisper.

Violet had come up behind them then. "I still think it is incredibly strange that she can talk to plants like that," she told Maggie. "Even though I've seen her do it many times now. My people are thought to be talented in all aspects relating to nature, especially those who dwelt in the jungles of Narishaw, down in the south. But I've never known this to be a thing."

No more than a couple minutes had passed when Dina suddenly stood up. "It took a little convincing, but I've managed to learn something. The moss of these peaks is very distrusting," she explained while brushing the snow off her knees. "There is indeed a tunnel underneath all that," she said, in a louder voice this time so that everyone could hear her. "A tunnel and a bridge, and then another tunnel. But before those were built, there was another way to pass through here. There should be a cave entrance just past the edge of the cliff there, out of sight. Apparently no one's come through there in a long time, or so the moss says."

"So the moss says," Laurolf could be heard in the background, grunting at the absurdity of it.

"It also explained to me where to look for the tunnel entrance. It is quite large, right over there somewhere. That should help if we are to dig through, though it still won't be easy. Or we could explore the other option."
 

ParrotParfait

A White Budgerigar Chillin'
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


When the Queen gave her announcement, Carn stopped digging and rejoined the group to listen to what she had to say. In short, Carn wasn’t adverse towards the idea of an alternate path, but on the other hand, he didn’t quite understand how she got that information. When he asked for an explanation, the description he received did little to resolve his confusion.

“That’s really... uhh... odd,” Carn commented as he scratched his head, not knowing quite how to process what had just transpired. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Dina’s gift with plants (he might have felt a bit jealous), but just the mere notion of talking to a plant was incredibly out there for him. However when compared to her other power, Dina's gift of speaking to plants was astronomically better, and with his own experience tending plants in the forest (minus the talking), he was a little bit more receptive to the idea. And thus, he believed Dina’s information, but only out of trust to the moss and not to Dina herself.

“But, it's better than anything I got. If you want my two cents, I think we should find the other entrance,” Carn added immediately. As if to emphasize, he took a look back at the towering mound before turning forward. He gave a defeated sigh before admitting, “Otherwise, I might be dead beat tired for the rest of the day. Wouldn't be good when there's a dragon on the loose.”
 



"We can always return here to dig if the other path doesn't exist." Asher said unconvinced. He has seen and done many things though the ages, but never was he given guidance by moss. It is true that he would use rats and other animals to course a path through unmapped tunnels, but never has the help been so specific.

Regardless whether he trusted the moss or not Asher's main concern was Dina. Despite agreeing that they should look for the other opening, he put his guard up just in case they find something other than that.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter



Maggie watched with interest as Dina commune with the moss. Nodding to Violet, she replied, "It's still pretty new to me, too. I haven't had much chance to see her doing it, but it just feels so much nicer than...well." No need to make that comparison pointed, the priestess decided. Instead, she tried to be more positive. "I'm glad we could find something for her to talk to under all this snow and ice." She stopped. Dina had apparently finished her chat with the plant and was turning towards them.

"I can't really blame it for being distrusting," Maggie said with a slight smile. "What with avalanches and dragons and all."

She listened to the rest of what the moss had to say, as relayed by Dina. The priestess didn't seem to need much convincing to cast her own vote. "I'd like to try for the tunnel too," she said. "It may even be a little warmer, besides getting us on our way faster."
 

Wolf Rawrrr

Wolf-Knight
And so it was that the Chosen opted for the alternative path, turning away from the snowslide that - while not impossible to get through - would have certainly expended quite a bit of their precious energy which was already less for the effort it took them to get this far. It seemed to be a unified decision, anyway, even if some of them were swayed merely with the promise of shelter and relative warmth.

Dina led the way towards the cliff at the far end, which was previously, quite understandably, taken for the end of the path. If one were to stand where the edge met the wall of rock, however, and look closely past, one would spy a jutting landing of stone not far below. Still not necessarily something that would be taken for a way that led anywhere, unless one knew otherwise. It was a short drop, but on close inspection there were obviously manmade footholds carved out in the rock. The fellowship could definitely safely descend there, as long as they were careful. The path forward seemed to be obscured by the cliff itself, running underneath it before finally entering through the cave (a safe assumption waiting to be confirmed).

"I will take point," Violet said, preparing to jump down.

"I think not, elf," Laurolf came forward, peering over the edge. "This be more of a job for a dwarf, you see." And off the side he went, grinning as he went and as he looked up at them a few moments later. "Well? Are ye comin'?" he asked, drawing his battleaxe.

The wind howled on, picking up threateningly as they stood lined up next to the long, long way down.
 

ParrotParfait

A White Budgerigar Chillin'
Carn Barley

- The Iron Wall -


When Carn looked down at the path, he internally winced when he saw the human-sized footholds and the unstable-looking platform; both of which were right next to the “most-certain-death” precipice. For a human, elf, or dwarf, this descent would be relatively safe, but for a drakkar that's usually twice the weight of the others? That realization stirred up younger memories of when the tree branches snapped under his growing weight as he matured. If the same were to happen here…

“I…” Carn started off, “I think I should go last and only after we’ve confirmed that the passage hadn’t collapsed. If I go down, the rocks could give under my weight, and if the trembling blocked the passage, I wouldn’t want to climb back up.” He hated the fact that he sounded afraid, but for Carn, safety comes before ego, and so it was.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter



Maggie nodded to Carn. "That sounds reasonable," she said, and patted his arm reassuringly. She hoped her own growing discomfort didn't show. It was a long way down. While Laurolf, Violet, and Dina made their way down, the priestess made sure she didn't have anything loose and dangling that could catch on stray rock bits while she climbed. She looked over the edge again, swallowing hard as her stomach recoiled from the great distance. Finally she took her own turn, moving hesitantly from foothold to foothold, and making sure each foot was steady before she tried for the next.
 

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