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Fantasy City of Magi- Wait What?!

Sub Genres
Adventure, Multiverse, Romance


Two Thousand Club
She had turned to walk on still feeling somewhat sheepish at what could easily be interpreted as childish behaviour, when out of the corner of her eye, she caught the human warrior join in her earlier zany antics. She stopped for real then, fixing Jason with an odd look on her face. When he turned back to her, a silly grin on his face he'd find her studying him with head cocked, hands on her hips and eyebrows arched in amusement. But as soon as the smile lighted up her face, it vanished just as quickly when he pressed his question.

"Do not dare to speak of my homeland. You defile it with your lips." She uttered with vehemence and frosty eyes. She fixed him with a stare before turning with a swish of her cloak and stalked through the snow, hippogriff obediently trailing in her wake. The creature turned to watch Jason with beady eyes, almost as if it were judging him.

Talyndra had not gone more than half a dozen steps before she appeared to stagger, suddenly doubling over and clutching her stomach as if in great pain. Then all of a sudden, a throaty spell of laughter burst from her lips as she half turned to look back at him.

"Aran- hahahaha!" She tried to speak, but another string of laughter took over and she clutched at her midriff in pain from the mirth induced convulsions. Finally, after what must surely be an obscene amount of time the elf appeared to regain her composure, though she wiped at her teary eyes.

"Forgive me... I jest!" She finally admitted, still unable to hold back a short burst of giggles. "Even for an edan that was-- what was the word? Atrocious?" She shook her head and took a deep steadying breath, allowing the cold to calm her ticklish nerves. Turning back, she walked back to Jason lightly clutching at the sides of his arms as she looked him full in the face. Her head had to tilt up due to the height difference, but her eyes shone with uncanny determination.

"Aran`Fadrasil... Arrr-ckh-hann..." She repeated slowly, emerald eyes fixing into his own, "Farth - dhra - sil... It means, Our Bloodland." Her eyes widened for a moment to gauge his response, perhaps a nod of encouragement if he attempted to pronounce it again.

"Ar - ran Fa - dra - seal-" She reiterated his earlier pronunciation only for a sharp laugh to burst from her lips again, causing her to take a step back to stifle her laughter, "the way you said it before, it almost sounds like... like... we..." she began nodding her head in circular motions, either trying to find the words or unwilling to speak it, "..we... are.. you know.. let-out-blood..." she looked at him again to check if he understood her. The elf's cheeks were slightly pinkish, though not from the cold. "I-I mean.. I am sure edan girls have it too... for a few days every moon cycle... yes?" She half nodded and shook her head at him again, a nervous giggle fighting for control of her composure.
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The Wild One
Rather than being embarrassed, Jason was actually glad to see the amused look she was giving him. It was perhaps the first time he'd seen her smile since he'd literally dropped in just a while ago. It meant that his attempt to lighten the mood a little had been successful, which in turn would mean that the journey ahead would be a little easier to deal with.

So one could imagine that, when her demeanor suddenly shifted and became every bit as cold as the world around them, he was left a tad bit dismayed, visibly surprised, and more than a little confused. Blinking a few times, he slowed his pace a little as he watched her turn and storm off, swirling her cloak dramatically. "... Oh. Alright, then."

As he followed after them, a little dejectedly at that, he couldn't help but wonder what he did to upset them - and he did mean 'them,' because that judgemental stink eye the hippogriff was giving him didn't escape his notice.

He had known some elves who were more than a little touchy when it came to interacting with humans, and figured at first that this was simply a case of that. But even though she wasn't exactly forthcoming with him right off the bat, he doubted she was really like that - her behavior hardly hinted at it.

So, he considered a few other possibilities, running the conversation back through his head - and right when he realized his mistake, she began to laugh.

While she was positively bursting with laughter, Jason just stood and stared dumbly, full aware of what the joke was but not so sure how to respond. His expression, though blank, was tinged by pink, clearly hinting at his own embarrassment. It wasn't the first time he'd been laughed at for absolutely butchering a foreign name, for sure, but he definitely couldn't recall anyone ever finding it this funny. Was it really that bad?

When she approached him and took hold of his arms, he didn't really do much other than watch her looking down and meeting her gaze with an uncharacteristically sheepish look in his eye. As she coached him through the pronunciation, he followed attentively, because heavens knew he needed it. He did indeed try to pronounce it once again, this time breaking it down just as she had. What resulted was certainly better than before, even if it still needed some work.

Watching as she stepped back and descended to another bout of laughter, Jason raised his brows a little as she went on to explain what he'd apparently said. And when he realized what she was referring to, his eyes widened considerably, and that earlier blush returned in full force to color his mortified expression cherry red. "... Oh."

He just stared at her for moment longer, before abruptly hefting his axe and beginning to walk again. "You know what? I'm just going to call it the Bloodland or something," he muttered as he passed by, walking at a brisk pace. Coming up with easier names was kind of a thing he did when this happened, and it just so happened to sound cooler than the 'Elf Land' or 'Elf Town' he usually went with.

"... Oh hey, is that an exit over there? I'll just... Go check that out."

The exit he was referring to was a large fissure in the walls of their enclosure, which seemed to allow passage into the world beyond. He'd only just seen it, but it provided a suitable distraction from his current situation.
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Two Thousand Club
The way he just seemed so abashed at his accidental mistake was rather adorable if she'd cared to admit. The way the years just seemed to fall off his soulful eyes made the elf begin to wonder what exactly he'd been through for someone who appeared to be not many winters older than herself.

"You know what? I'm just going to call it the Bloodland or something," He replied, turning away to continue their trudge through the snow.

Talyndra let out an amused huff of air before hurrying after the human. "You might not want to call it that if we're back home..." She commented, somewhat soberly. To a certain extent, it was true. Certain bits their cultural identity ran deep, and there were not a few who would take offence at the translated common name of their capital. Some things were just best left untranslated.

"If we get home..." She added after quite some time, though her voice was quiet. No, she did not miss the must of cobwebs and browned leather tomes of her tower. Neither had she begin to doubt that she might never return. But she was at the precipice. The point at which you questioned oneself if you were really taking the danger you were in all that seriously as you should. She was quiet for a long moment after that, observing as the ground gradually began to slope upwards as the sheer rocky cliffs that imprisoned them closed in from one side. They were nearing the end of whatever outcropping she had crashed onto.

"You know what? I'm just going to call it the Bloodland or something," Jason's voice cut through the roar of the wind and she perked up, looking in the direction of his gaze. A large dark crack in the ominous barrier of their natural prison hid in the shadows of an alcove. It stretched high, but not so high that it was shrouded in the murky mists of cloud and snow that permeated the tops of the mountain range. And as the companions drew nearer, the elf noted with some measure of surprise that the fissure widened at the base. In fact, it was wide enough for three or so individuals to walk abreast, if not for the fact that some rockfall a little way in had caused the opening to narrow down; albeit it looked like she could still squeeze through. The optimist here began to wonder if it led somewhere.

She approached the opening and unceremoniously stuck her head right in with a callous lack of caution.

"It ends about five feet in," she called back, voice echoing oddly in the confined space. She peered into the gloom for a while longer, before taking a step back "it's blocked by some kind of icy wall. Water must've accumulated over time and gradually frozen over-- oh!" Talyndra let out a sudden exclamation as she paused midway from extricating herself from the hole. Whatever it was, it clearly had her undivided attention as she held still for not a short amount of time. Finally, "it's-- there's... some words etched into the stone..." backing out at last, the elf's forehead scrunched in a rather perturbed manner.


The Wild One
"Wouldn't dream of it," came Jason's response as he made his way over to the cave. "If we were in your home, I'd just leave the talking and the pronouncing to you." That was what he usually did when visiting foreign nations, as he so often did these days; having friends in those parts proved to be a pretty big help when it came to matters of diplomacy and communication, even though he was steadily getting better at it himself. Here, though, deep within unknown territory, he had no such allies to fall back on. His only companion was a native elf who he knew next to nothing about, though he had figured her to be a pretty decent person so far. He was more or less on his own here, at least for the time being.

Not that he was particularly worried about that. It was far from the first time for him, and although he'd never quite been thrust into a situation quite like this, he had little trouble adapting.

Now was no time to worry, anyway. He wasn't one to reminisce and muse when there was something to be done, as was the case now.

Jason slowed his pace as he approached the crevice, eventually coming to a stop before it. For a moment, he studied it, taking note of its size and shape. He was a fairly large guy, but he figured that even with the current narrowness of the opening, it wouldn't be too much trouble for him to slip through - though, with how dark it happened to be inside, he had a hard time telling if it even led anywhere. The adventurer in him, always so curious, was itching to just go in and see.

Just as he was contemplating doing so, though, Talyndra seemed to beat him to it. He glanced aside at her as she walked up - and his brows rose in surprise as she went and just stuck her head right in, with zero apparent regard for her own safety. He'd never met an elf quite so impulsive; most just considered that to be a trait of humans and dwarves. And Infernals too, he supposed.

As he didn't believe there to be any kind of threat within, though, he decided against trying to stop her, instead just listening intently as she reported on what she found. And what he heard had him slumping his shoulders in clear disappointment. So it was a dead-end, after all. He'd considered the possibility, but he'd been hoping against it. Now that it had been confirmed, though, that meant that there was little else to do but continue on their way and hope there was an actual exit route around here someway.

Or so he thought, up until his elven companion let out a cry of surprise that promptly caught his attention, drawing him out of his head and dispelling the sense of dismay that had been building up within him. Now, he stood curiously, waiting somewhat patiently for Talyndra to elaborate on what she'd found. When it seemed that she wouldn't, he opened his mouth to ask himself, only to be cut off before he could.

He didn't seemed to mind, though, because he found the revelation of what she'd seen to be far more important. "Words?" He repeated, his eyes widening a little as he looked from her to the crevice. "Could you read them? What did they say?" His interest and curiosity were apparent now more than ever. Whatever it was, it could've been absolutely nothing important; but Jason was inclined to believe that that wasn't the case. It had to be there for a reason, right?


Two Thousand Club
There was no mistaking it, what she had initially glossed over because of the thin layer of ice obscuring the marks proved to be clearly artificial in nature. A pale hand emerged from the folds of her cloak and brushed over the frozen surface, a whispered incantation on her lips. From the palm of her hands, orange-red flames ignited like a brazier. Before long, a trickle of water trailed down the side as the patch of ice melted away from the cave wall.

"Words?" Jason inquired, looking at her. "Could you read them? What did they say?"

Talyndra did not immediately answer him, and though the perpetual howl of the Swerdrun filled the air with noise, she couldn't help but become suddenly aware of a hush that had descended upon them. It was as if all the elements around them hung still as the disinterred echoes of a time long past saw the light of day once more.

"I... cannot." The elf finally replied. And yet it wasn't quite the truth. Her almond orbs traced the angular etchings on the walls, so utterly foreign and yet it tugged at her heart. Like seeing a familiar face in the crowd though you were sure you'd never met that person in your whole life. You were sure. Her mind flew over leagues in an instant, far to the south, past great forests and the watchful eyes of the rangers, over looming walls and up into the soaring heights of the Tower of Storms; where she'd spent much of her adult life. During the day, instructing aspiring Stormlords. The nights, she haunted the musty hallways of the Great Library. Her inner sight accelerated once more, zipping between the towering bookshelves and huge leather-bound tomes, through a dusty corner and down a spiralling set of stairs into the shadows of the abandoned. The ancient and the forgotten.

"It's ancient elvish..." Her voice was hushed. She couldn't help but whisper, acutely aware that she was speaking in the presence of the immemorial. "This is thousands of years old..."

She placed her fingertips on the chiselled surface and was surprised to find their edges smooth. She had thought it would be harsh to the touch, as a stone would be when tools were brought to bear. Either time had worn them down, or the author of these enigmatic literary lines had worked not with handheld tools but with magic.

"Five hundred... twenty-five..?" She suddenly spoke, blinking in surprise when she realized that she could somehow guess at some of the words. They were clearly different. Elvish or at least the one that she knew was written with much swirls and embellishments. These were sharper, more precise and reminded her of the runes marked in the deepest tunnels of the Dwarven fortress of Dol'Nughdim. "Yen ar Coiasira Urolokki... Time of the Dragon. People of the First Prince... past." Talyndra bit at her bottom lip, struggling to make sense of the indiscernible. But it was of no use, lines upon lines of writing would remain a mystery and that fact alone tore at her nerves. What tales did they hide? Whose story was marked, out-living the author for eternity to come. Why was this here? The Tel`Quessir lived long, and their race had been around for far longer. So long that they could not remember their storied past. Much of what was certain went back to the Age of Chaos. The founding of the Bloodsworn. Beyond that was fiction. Legends of old. Found in whimsical novels with half their pages missing in the dustiest parts of a library.

Perhaps... what was hidden lay further inside?

"Beyond the wall of ice..." Talyndra suddenly turned upon the human, a spark of eagerness in her emerald orbs. "I think this is the way out." She turned her attention back to the small one-person wide hole within the cave. She could just see the crystalline shimmer of the frozen wall that surely barred their way out. For all she knew, it was miles thick. She could call on fire, it would take ages and she'd probably be frozen before making any headway... But to heck with it, they haven't even tried. Her gaze went to the axe borne by the human, and then to his bulging biceps hidden by his tunic.

"Can you crack it?" She grinned at him as if plotting mischief. If he could break the flat surface of the ice, create a fissure as deep as possible, she could try a cantrip or two. "As deep as you can. I've got an idea."


The Wild One
The lack of an immediate response didn't seem to bother him much, as it once might have during his younger days. Though he was certainly keen to know just what it was that was apparently inscribed within these walls, he was content to wait a moment and let her suss it out - for it was pretty clear that that was what she was doing. As such, he decided to remain quiet, refraining from asking any further questions so as to help her maintain her focus. In the meantime, however, he let his thoughts wander.

In just the short amount of time that he's been here, Jason has had far too many questions for his liking, and this only added to them. He'd expected a place like this to be uninhabited, considering its apparent danger and all, so the presence of any kind of artificiality naturally struck him as more than a little strange. But then, considering that his knowledge of this world was currently extremely lacking, he figured it was reasonable to assume that it probably wasn't as odd as he thought, even if his elven companion seemed just as perplexed as he was. For all he knew, there could've been some mysterious montane civilization that had once lived in these parts, and it was probably entirely possible that they weren't the first to have wound up in this area, considering that it seemed markedly more hospitable than the environment around it.

Whatever the case, he found the matter intriguing, perhaps even more so because he knew next to nothing about this place. His inner adventurer was probably going to have a field day with this one.

"I... cannot."

Talyndra's voice was soft, but it was enough to bring him out of his head back to the present. Blinking a few times, he realized that he had been staring at the crevice, and he turned his blue-eyed gaze in her direction to affix her with a curious look. It didn't surprise him that she couldn't read it, though she certainly seemed to be trying. If her people had only scarcely been up this far, it stood to reason that there would be little here that they would recognize. Especially if it was as old as this probably was. Still, he couldn't help but be a bit disappointed, having hoped that this wouldn't be yet another unsolved mystery to be heaped with the rest. He supposed that there was little they could do about it now, though. Their priority was to find a way out of this place, so if they couldn't figure this out, then they may as well move on before one of them froze to death or something.

Then she spoke again, and hearing what she said, he decided to put that thought on hold for a moment.

"It's Ancient Elvish... This is thousands of years old."

Her voice was quieter than it had been a moment ago, likely out of reverence for what she had found. Had he not been so close to her, he probably wouldn't have been able to hear her at all over the roaring of the wind above. And yet, he didn't bother commenting on it, instead watching with interest as she set a hand upon the stone and did her best to try and read it out. So she could understand it after all, at least to some extent. And while it seemed that she couldn't translate much, what she did relay to him was more than enough to catch his attention. Evidently, it was hinting at some bygone era, perhaps a much earlier time in their civilization, and the mention of dragons only piqued his interest further. Where he was from, they had Trolls and Titans and Dryads and Undead, but dragons were only a myth - as far as he was aware, at least. But apparently, that wasn't so much the case here.

When Talyndra finally turned back to face him Jason met her gaze and took notice of the eagerness she held within. That energy seemed to be infectious, because after hearing what she said, he gave her an enthusiastic grin of his own. "Of course I can," he told her confidently, lifting his axe off his shoulder. Stepping forward, he peered into the crevice for a moment, studying for a moment the wall of ice within. Then, apparently satisfied with what he'd seen, he hefted his axe and raised it in preparation for a swing.

When he brought it down, it was with all the force he could muster, and the combination of that with the inherent power of the weapon itself allowed the blade to cut in surprisingly deep, almost as if there were nothing there at all. This was no surprise to Jason, who now tugged it free with relative ease, as he was well aware of its capabilities. Having had it these past few years, he'd used to cut through much tougher substances, including even Titanium (as tough as that was).

"There we go," he told her, returning the weapon to its position on his shoulder. "On you."


Two Thousand Club
The axe dug in with an audible CRACK. Bits of crystalline ice scattered about as Jason's axe connected with the frozen barrier. And when the warrior took a step back, allowing Talyndra a peek at the damage he had wrought, her eyes widened in genuine surprise.

"Aa!" The elf breathed in approval, after looking at the shattered barrier.
"You've got quite the arm." The elf remarked appreciatively.

Indeed she was genuinely impressed, not that she was an expert ice-cracker. But she'd expect this much damage on really cold ice to come from a more blunt weapon. A warhammer such as those favoured by the Bloodsworn's stout kin. But for it to come from an axe was quite something. She briefly considered asking Jason to just continue hacking away but dismissed the idea. She had no idea how deep the blockage was if indeed this was a passage and not some dead end. The human didn't look particularly fazed thus far, but since she had serendipitously found a companion, they would do well to share the load.

Walking up close the alcove, she let herself drift into the elemental planes in preparation for the spells she had in mind. Flow came quickly, but her grasp on Fury was tenuous at best; perhaps due to the very frigid nature of their current setting. Letting out a breath, she reached behind her neck, alabaster fingers fiddling with the clasp of her leather choker with its swirling milk-white gem. Once removed, she stashed it into the folds of her robes. Almost immediately, she felt their touch. The whisperings and thunderous calls. She took a step back, indicating to Jason to do the same as her voice began an incantation.

Hands outstretched before her, she drew sigils in the air. A glimmering azure light emanated from her palms as suddenly a rushing stream of water shot forward filling the cracks in the frozen barrier. But before they could freeze, the Storm Maiden's voice rose in a sudden crescendo, eyes flashing vermillion as the torrent of water was suddenly replaced by gouts of searing flame. The water that had filled the cracks was immediately vaporized from the intense heat, expanding in unbridled capacity until it could no longer be confined to such a restrictive space. Coupled with the surge of explosive fire, it was a recipe for utmost destruction.

The resulting explosion nearly deafened the elf, the shockwave knocking her hood right off and nearly shattered her hasty icewall. Bits of rock debris and chunks of ice blasted out of the confined space and with each hit, the shimmering azure half dome groaned and cracked. But each hole was quickly frozen over by the torrent of frost that poured forth from Talyndra's open hands.

Finally, the echoes of the resounding blast drifted far enough away and the aftermath of the preconceived plan quietened. The elf breathed a sigh of relief, her wall of ice having grown further until it almost became an igloo. She sighed, relaxing herself and stopping the flow of magic.

It was a mistake

By the time she realized it and tried to renew the flow of magic, it was already too late. Sheets of hard ice and accumulation of snow lost its structure and caved in.

"Oop--" She barely got out a yelp before her vision was filled with drifts of white. She even received a couple of hard knocks off her forehead as an icing on the cake. If Jason had stood right with her, he would've surely been inundated as well.
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The Wild One
Jason grinned couldn't help but grin at her compliment. "Why thank you. I've had practice." Which was true in more ways than one. He'd cut down a few trees in his time, sure, but much of that skill really came from a combination of years of combat experience and top-notch training from some of the greatest warriors he knew. And of course, it also helped that he was just big and strong too.

With much interest, the warrior stood by and watched as Talyndra approached the crevice, wondering just what kind of wicked spellwork she was planned to apply for this. He knew little of her abilities as a mage, particularly since he hardly had any idea how magic here worked to begin with, so he didn't really know what to expect; but after seeing what she'd done earlier, he was confident that she was at least capable of some pretty remarkable things. Granted, he thought that of pretty much every magic-user he encountered, but that was perhaps par for the course when such people were so rare.

At any rate, it's safe to say that he wasn't disappointed. The way she took off her choker in advance had him a little curious at first - but then she gestured for him to stand back, and as he did, it occurred to him that it was probably a restraint of sorts. Something to limit her power. He could've been wrong, of course, but either way, he couldn't deny that it only made him even more excited to see what she'd do.

Though he obviously couldn't understand it, he also took some interest in her incantation. However, what really drew his attention was what she did next. His eyes widened slightly, and it was his turn to be impressed as he bore witness to a most novel display. The glyphs she drew were hardly familiar to him, but the way it was done was unlike anything he'd seen before; as was the way her hands glowed and her eyes shone with power. But perhaps most striking of all was the way she manipulated the elements, seeming to do so with an ease and fluidity that he hadn't really seen in any Magician back at home.

And then the crevice exploded. Though he had certainly felt the shockwave from where he was standing, it was hardly strong enough to really affect him beyond making his ears ring, thanks in part to the frozen wall his companion had erected. Still, though, it had caught him off guard, causing him to take another step back out of pure reflex alone. Now much more alert, he watched as the ice barrier was pelted by shrapnel and debris, gradually damaging the dome even as Talyndra constantly mended it. He was quite glad she could, too - he didn't think his barriers would work so well here, given the current state of his other abilities.

Once the aftershock had fully died down, Jason cautiously made his way forward, walking up beside her. After a brief moment, he made to speak... and then paused as he heard the sudden cracking of ice. Eyes widening, he looked up, and before he knew it, he was buried underneath pounds and pounds of ice and snow.

It wasn't until a few seconds later that he managed to escape. His free hand shot out from underneath the pile, and with it, he was gradually able to pull himself free. After he did, he wasted no time in assisting Talyndra, whether that met helping to get her out or simply lending a hand as she did so herself. "Are you alright?" He asked once she was free, clearly a tad concerned.


Two Thousand Club
The warmth of a strong grip closed over her wrist under the cottony drifts of cold and Talyndra pretty much swam her way out of the mini avalanche. Her upper torso finally free, she spat out a mouthful of fluffy ice, cheeks coloured from both the cold and embarrassment. A throaty laugh followed, narrowing her almond eyes until the mirth hid her emerald irises. Meanwhile, the frazzled Elanti had bounded over, talons carefully sifting the snow away to help her clumsy mistress extricate herself.

"I guess I didn't think that through," the elf declared an unabashed grin on her face, before her breath caught in her throat and she shivered clutching at the front of her robes,
Turning away, she tugged at her front and hopped and wriggled her body around in some sort of bizarre dance. Eventually, whatever had triggered it was gone in a couple of seconds and the elf let out a sigh. Turning back to look at Jason and the hippogriff as her heavy breaths puffed plumes of vapour.
"Bit of ice entered some restricted places." She explained, sticking her tongue out impishly.

"Come on, let's see if we've found our way out of here." The Storm Maiden remarked. Walking back to the blasted alcove. A low rumble teased at her ears as she moved closer, catching her attention momentarily and causing the elf to cock her head. But it seemed far away and she couldn't decide if it was a particularly new ambient noise, considering the perpetual gale that roared in the ears, so it went ignored.

Climbing up to the blasted mountainside the companions found themselves face to face with a gaping void. Where once the fissure ended several feet deep, blocked by ice, the blackened rock now stood like an archway to a shadowy nether realm. Standing on the threshold, it was so dark that she could make up nothing further in. Despite the lack of visual cues, Talyndra knew they had found something much more than a hole in the mountainside. It was apparent enough from the way the wind had already begun whistling into the gap with a torrent of frigid cold. Whatever hidden space they had uncovered, the vacuum they had opened up was large.

Talyndra turned to face Jason her eyes wide with thrilling emotion, but a sudden earth-shaking rumble broke her focus once again. One need not have keen elf-ears to have heard it this time. She could feel the reverberations through the soles of her boots.

"I don't like the sound of that." Her heart had already begun its pacing beat, as trepidation crept its way up her spine. Talyndra tore her eyes away from the shrouded cliffs and turned to inspect the entryway. A whispered word and traced sigil produced a small wispy ball of amber light. The amber sprite floated lazily at shoulder height, its glow fighting to illuminate the depths of the tunnel.
"We best head in." Even as she said those words, the elf could see a problem. The mouth of the tunnel was barely higher than she was and no wider than two of her shoulder lengths abreast. It'd be an uncomfortable fit for Jason. . . and quite possibly an impossible fit for Elanti. There was no telling if the tunnel narrowed further in. Talyndra shook her head. She didn't want to dwell on it without trying. Already she was starting to feel the growing quakes once again. This time, it did not abate seemingly growing stronger by the second.

"Help me with the bags." The elf's voice was tense. Working quickly the two of them worked to unsaddle as much of the supplies from the hippopgriff's back as possible, dumping it to the side further in. The rumbling quake grew louder than ever, drowning out even the whistling of the breeze. Back outside, she thought she saw bits of snow and rock tumbling down from above. With gripping dread, she surmised that the explosion from her spell might've started an avalanche.

"Elanti, tul a no'!" Talyndra pulled at her feathery companion's reigns, trying to get the large beast into the cave.
TL: Elanti, come on!

"Help me Jason!" Her voice pleaded. But through the growing shroud of panic that muddled her thoughts, a voice was screaming nay. It was too tight. Whether or not Jason had moved to help her, the hippogriff barely budged. As the beast struggled and they tugged, it seemed to hurt the creature more than anything. Face-to-face with Elanti's beady eyes, one which was filled with utmost trust, Talyndra came to a realization. And it broke her. Alabaster fingers faltered at the reigns, letting the leather strips fall. it was only for a moment. Elanti had grown up with her, stoically stood by her side. The beast was more family to her than even some of her blood-kin. She would not be the cause of her death, even if it meant losing her.

"Rima Elanti! Auta n'e!" She kissed the hippogriff's beak before pushing at the bird. Beady eyes locked with hers as the hippogriff stopped struggling, it seemed almost as if Elanti refused to leave. Talyndra shook her head, pellucid droplets of water already streaming down her cheeks. "Auta n'e..." She urged, though her heart said otherwise. Beady eyes blinked. Then the large bird scrambled backwards and disappeared out of sight. Moments later, a deafening boom blasted debris and snow at her face forcing the elf the retreat backwards as the opening was sealed in.
TL: Run Elanti! Get out!
TL: Go away...

The crash echoed in the dimly lit tunnel after which all was silent, an emptiness punctuated only by a sniffling cry.
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The Wild One
Once he had taken hold of her grip, Jason wasted no time helping the young Storm Maiden free, a process made all the easier by the aid of her hippogriff companion - whom he made sure to reward with a brief "thanks" as he worked. Though he was clearly concerned for her well-being at first, her bout of laughter was more than enough to convince him that she was totally fine. This seemed to help him relax a little, he couldn't help but join in with a merry chuckle of his own, dusting the snow off his hair, face, and cloak as he did so. If he was cold before, he was positively freezing now, but he did his best to try and ignore the feeling as he went about searching for his axe.

"I guess I didn't think that through," he heard Talyndra remark. The comment elicited a snicker from him, and as he dug through the dirt, he shook his head. "No you did not," he agreed, clearly more amused by the whole situation than anything. He knew full well that had he been in her position, he probably wouldn't have put very much thought into it either, so he had no room to judge.

After a little bit of digging, he managed to locate the haft of his axe, and with the help of the inherent strength boost it gave him, he tugged it free with little to no effort at all. He then inspected the blade for a moment after, looking over the metal and wiping off residual snow with a part of his cloak. "Sure glad I didn't land on this or anything," he muttered to himself. "That'd have been bad." While doing this, he looked up and spare a glance at his companion, only to find her hopping and wiggling around in a strange and vaguely amusing way. When she turned back to face him, he raised his eyebrows quizzically, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

"Bit of ice entered some restricted places." Hearing this explanation, his brows only raised even higher. "Oh." That explained it. He had been fortunate enough to have very little snow go beneath his clothing, so he was thankful for that at least.

"Come on, let's see if we've found our way out of here," he heard her beckon. Once his axe blade was nice and pristine once again, Jason set it on his shoulder and got back to his feet, standing up to his full height. "After you, M'lady," he replied with mock formality, pulling his cloak in with one hand and following her to the alcove. As he went, he too took notice of the distant rumbling, and the moment he did, he furrowed his brows and came to a brief stop. Now on high alert, he took a look around his surroundings, looking for anything out of the ordinary. He couldn't seem to find anything of note, though, and the rumbling, while certainly there, seemed to be pretty distant. For the time being, at least. So, with that in mind, he ultimately decided to just continue on his way, albeit warier this time.

After climbing up the slope, Jason came to a stop beside Talyndra and beheld the result of her handiwork. In spite of the more guarded demeanor that he had now taken on, he couldn't help but widen his eyes in visible amazement. Apparently, her plan had worked better than he'd expected, because what was once a dead-end crevice that he could only just fit in was now a yawning chasm, an entrance into what could have well been some endless abyss.

To him, a seasoned adventurer who had traversed more cave systems than he could count, it was a familiar sight. One that had once inspired within him this all-consuming sense of dread and foreboding, and yet had always roused within him a disparate sense of daring that compelled him to see what was inside. In the eyes of most back at home, caverns were to be avoided to nearly all costs if one wasn't a miner, as they contained within them countless frights and dangers - not least of which being the Infernal creatures that prowled in the dark. But for Jason, such places were home to ancient treasures and unsolved mysteries that were just begging to be uncovered. To him, they were always meant to be explored, and he was among the few willing to do it.

This case was no different. He was in a different world now, so he obviously had no idea what to expect; but really, that only made the prospect of diving in even more enticing. This much could be divined from his expression alone, as he turned and met Talyndra's gaze sporting a most audacious grin.

Which quickly faded when the rumbling hit for a second time, this time much harder to miss than before. While she went about calling up a magical light source illuminate the darkness of the cavern, Jason only spared her a glance before turning to locate the source of the sound. It had been a while since he had spent time in a region like this, but it nonetheless didn't take him long at all to realize that her explosion had triggered an avalanche. Upon realizing this, he furrowed his brows again, this time out of worry, before turning back to face the open.

"We best head in," he heard Talyndra say beside him, to which he couldn't agree more. "Right," came his terse response as he approached aperture and examined its dimensions. Though it had looked pretty wide at a glance, closer inspection revealed that it still wasn't quite large enough for him to fit comfortably. Which made him wish, not for the first time, that he hadn't grown to be as tall as he had.

Not long after realizing this did something else seem to occur to him, and he quickly looked back over his shoulder at the hippogriff that accompanied that. He didn't know how he hadn't seen it before, but it became astoundingly clear to him now that she had zero chance of fitting inside. Not unless she had some sort of shape- or size-shifting ability that he wasn't aware of. Judging by Talyndra's expression, though, she had come to realize the same thing. And if he had to guess, her companion had no such ability after all.

"Help me with the bags," she had commanded, her voice thick with tension. Jason didn't argue, taking action immediately and working to get off as many of the bags as possible, tossing them into the cavern one by one. By the time he was done with that, he could feel that the quaking had grown even louder, and turned almost on instinct to look in the direction it was coming from. Sure enough, he could now see a veritable flood of rock, ice, and snow tumbling down towards them. With the speed that it was going, they didn't have long at all before it got here.

Gritting his teeth, he turned back to his companion, watching as she tugged on the hippogriff's reins in a futile attempt to get her into the cave. She pleaded for his help, and Jason wanted so badly to lend it, but he knew that it wouldn't be any use. All he'd do is hurt the poor thing, more than it already had been. So instead, he decided to try and lend a hand in a different way.

Thinking quickly, he turned and ran away from Talyndra, positioning himself between Elanti and the incoming avalanche. Then, after taking a grounded stance, he channeled the power of Valiance and thrust his hand out, generating a golden barrier before him.

... Or, well, that's what should've happened. What occurred instead was a load of nothing - he more or less just stood there looking like a suicidal fool. Bewildered, although not too much so given his predicament, he furrowed his brows and thrust his other hands forward as well, as if that would help anything. But despite the ordeal they were in, despite the intentions he had, the Hero Key failed to respond. There was no glow, no empowerment, no barrier.

After a solid second of standing this way, Jason let out a frustrated growl that was drowned out by the cacophonous thundering that shook the entire area. Then, he turned around, just in time to see the hippogriff take off. Realizing that he only had seconds left to act, Jason practically leaped forward, flying into the tunnel just in time to avoid being buried in countless tons of snow.

Landing on his feet with a slight stumble, he quickly regained his balance and whirled around to face the entrance. Sure enough, it was completely blocked off.

Letting out a deep sigh, he took a look around. Now that there was no longer any light coming in from the outside world, all that was left to illuminate the cavern was the magical apparition that the Storm Maiden had summoned. It wasn't bright by any means, but it was at least enough for him to get by on.

As for the Storm Maiden in question, Jason could see her nearby, filling the silence of the cavern with a subdued cry. Frustrated as he was with the situation, he put those feelings aside for the moment and approached her, gently setting a hand on her should. "... I'm sorry," he told her eventually, speaking softly for once. It was a bit unclear what he meant. Was he sorry for not helping her? For the fact that he couldn't help her in the way that he wanted to? Or was he simply offering his condolences for her lost companion?

There was a brief pause, and then he spoke again. "Look, we're going find her again. I promise you," he assured her, his tone now holding a determined edge. "But to do that, we're going to have to get out of here first. We need to keep moving."


Two Thousand Club
"My sister gave me this giant egg. . . when I was but four winters. It was the size of a watergourd, so big I couldn't carry it.

A soft voice echoed through the dimly lit darkness. The pale glow of the ember sprite cast enough light to illuminate the elf as she knelt against the stony walls. Her head rested against a boulder, half embedded into the side and still warm from magic.

"I could roll it around though," Talyndra continued, voice steady but quiet and empty. Like the oppressive darkness of the magic-carved tunnel the duo found themselves in. "Rolled it down a flight of stairs once. . . on accident. It cracked a little, but didn't break.
"I was so scared." The elf's voice trembled a little and she let out a sniff. Her breath came out in plumes of vapour as she reached up to brush the wetness out of her eyes.

"She'll be alright, won't she?" The auburn-haired girl asked, though from her tone it sounded as though she was monologing. If Jason had spoken anything up till this point, it would have gone unacknowledged. Talyndra's heart clenched tightly when she tried to think about the consequences of her actions. Had she caused the death of her companion? Did Elanti manage to get away before she was buried under piles of rock and snow? And what if she did? She was injured, would she survive the cold? Ironically, the only comfort the elf took was the fact that the carcasses of the dead wolves would sustain the hippogriff for weeks. Perhaps even months. Elanti was surely smart enough to know that.

"Why did you do that?" There was a subtle change in the inflexions of Talyndra's voice, her mood had shifted. Just a little.
"Jason," she repeated. A rustle of robes and Jason would see the glitter of emerald eyes as Talyndra turned to look at him, not caring about her tear-steaked face. "When I couldn't get Elanti in, you ran out and stood with your hands to the sky. Why?" Given the situation, the question might've sounded accusatory. But there were no plaints in the elf's tone. If anything, her eyes appeared empty. As if a part of the light within had been put out.


The Wild One
At first, it would seem that Jason wanted nothing more than to get a move on. In spite of all that had just happened, up to and including his virtual demise and the apparent loss of their winged companion, he had already set his mind on trying to find a way out of this tight spot they'd found themselves in. After all, they weren't likely to get anything done just sitting here, and every second they spent doing so was precious time wasted.

Or so he may have thought, at first. He supposed it was just the seasoned adventurer in him, the side of him that was so used to extreme danger and near-death experiences that it had more or less learned to take such things into stride. But as he listened to Talyndra speak, he noted the uncharacteristically hollow quality in her tone, and he recalled a point in time when he himself had felt the way she had. The grief he'd experienced following the loss of his own loved ones, especially in the days after the Descent. And decided that escape could probably wait a moment.

Without so much as a word, he removed his hand from her shoulder... only to get down into a kneeling position himself, setting his arms upon his leg and bowing his head somewhat as he listened to her silently. Maybe she wanted someone to listen to her. Maybe she didn't. Either way, he was intent on keeping her company and consoling her however he could.

As she continued to relay her story, he didn't utter so much as a word, figuring that she didn't desire any input. It wasn't until she asked her question that he even looked up, his expression empathetic as he regarded her.

"She'll be alright, won't she?"

Being honest, he wasn't quite sure if she was actually asking him, or if it was simply rhetorical. With her tone and her expression, it was difficult to tell. But regardless, he chose to give an answer, spoken without even a moment of hesitation.

"Of course," he told her in a rather gentle tone. One could pass it off as an attempt to simply assure her, but he really did seem genuinely optimistic about it.

During the moment of silence that followed, Jason paused, seemingly in consideration of saying more - but before he could, she spoke again, and this time she was addressing him.

"Why did you do that?"

The question caught him off guard, disrupting a train of thought and eliciting a somewhat surprised glance in her direction. "Do what?" He asked slowly, clearly unsure of what she was referring to. Then she clarified, and as she turned to face him and her eyes met his, he found them to be lacking that same spark they'd had just minutes before. Strange how such a great change could occur in such a short about of time.

He held her gaze for only a moment, before turning it onto the wall of ice, rock, and snow that now blocked the entrance of the cavern. His answer didn't come until a few moments afterward. "... I was trying to protect us," he murmured, his voice considerably softer than it usually was. " All of us. I knew that she wouldn't fit, so... I figured that the only thing I could do to help her would be to call up a barrier. I used to be able to do that." He turned his gaze back on her and shrugged, just slightly. "Now it just seems like I can't anymore."

As he said this, his expression was nonchalant, almost blank. But his tone held a hint of bitterness and dejection, particularly toward the end. He hadn't always had his abilities, of course, and even after obtaining his Key, it had been months before he was able to actually use it for the first time. So naturally, he knew how to operate just fine without it, and he often still did. But even so, it had always come in handy whenever he really needed it, and by this point it had saved his life as well as many others' more times than he would care to count. To lose it now, or at least a part of it, when he perhaps needed it most was more than just an inconvenience.

But as much as he wished that that weren't the case and cursed whatever celestial had brought him here, Jason knew better than to dwell on it. Instead, he picked his axe up off the ground, studying it for a moment before continuing. "But that's alright. I may not have much left, but what's still here isn't anything to scoff at," he told her, keeping his tone positive. Though whether it was for her assurance or for his own was up in the air. "I'll tell you more about it, if you want. We can talk about it on our way out."

Looking her in the eye, he added, "And once we leave, we will find her. Alright?"
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