Arora had been surprised to find a note with her tea instead of Jakob, but after reading it she understood. This place bought them time, but a lot still had to be done. Arora sat with her tea and mulled over what she knew. Father, King Garon rather, was being manipulated. It may be dangerous to go to Nohr too quickly. Both sides considered her and everyone here a traitor, so neither side was really safe. They needed to be able to stop the fighting between the kingdoms. There was Anankos too. If he was manipulating everything and wanted Nohr and Hoshido to fight, how to stop him? She knew she would need to for any long term solution. Stopping the fighting would only be temporary if Anankos continued to urge the fighting behind the scenes.
Stopping him seemed impossible, especially since she couldn’t even talk about it outside Valla. Valla wasn’t a safe place to go either, so it would be difficult to tell anyone that way, and it could be reckless to put too many people at risk of dying from the curse. No, only a few of them would know about Anankos for now, until they had some way of countering the curse.
What to do for the next step. That was what Arora wanted to figure out, but when she set down her empty cup she still didn’t have a decisive course of action. She thought some sort of meeting to hear ideas and lay out all the possibilities would be best. The door opened, and she looked over.
“Lucien?” At first she assumed he was awake, but his eyes were closed. Sleep walking. “Talking will have to wait then.”
She wasn’t sure what she expected, but him picking her up wasn’t it. Let alone snuggling with her in bed. Her face was bright red. He wasn’t even awake. His ability to function half asleep was nothing short of amazing. She had no doubt that if someone were to attack he’d likely be able to fight them asleep and not remember it after waking. She didn’t move for several seconds, waiting to see if he might wake up or leave. Apparently he found this a good place to sleep, since he was back to sleeping peacefully. Arora shook his arm,”Lucien? Lucien?”
He wasn’t waking up. He wasn’t really squeezing her either. She could slip away, and he’d probably sleep through that. Arora didn’t move though. As mortified as she was by the thought of Jakob or anyone else walking in just then, she liked him holding her.
She relaxed a little with a sigh. Reasoning it over, she really had slept cuddled up with him before. He’d just been a dragon at the time. Besides that, what he’d told her before going to sleep. She shut her eyes and sighed again,”A short nap, then. If you’re not awake then, I’ll have to leave you here.”
Lucien had awoken form his nap to find food. To say he was truly a wake would a lie. His eyes hadn't even open, yet he was walking to find food. He could never truly remember when he did this after he awake. However, Luna once told him he would just smell his way to food then return to his bed. She also claimed that he would try to find her and sleep with her. He remembered that his mother did the same with his father. Also waking up in not the same place he when to bed help prove his sleep walking tendency. However, this time Lucien subconscious could not find Luna presence. So, after eating a large male that Lillith had made for him prior that morning he start his way back to the next close thing his conscious felt save around.
Jakob had made tea for Arora in her room and had left it on her table. Also, had left a note that said he would be out for the rest of the day to clean some cloths as well as help in the fields with Valentine. Shortly after Arora had finished her tea Lucien walked in his eyes still closed. After a second of not moving he moved over to Arora and picked her up bridal style and carried over to her bed. He then laid down with her. He held her around her waist and chest like one would a teddy bear. He wasn't holding her hard, leaving enough room for her to escape. "Hhhmm warm," Was what he said before falling back into a deep sleep.
Arora was glad for the tour, and that Lilith was happy to give it. She walked and listened, occasionally complimenting how well Lilith had done. It really was impressive. It had everything they needed, including a merchant, though Arora wondered a bit about that. Identical sisters seemed odd, but she took Lilith’s advice and didn’t dwell on it or ask.
When they were done Arora thanked Lilith, and told her how wonderful it was. “It’s a perfect base for us to work from.”
With the tour done, Arora decided to go find Jackob and have the tea he’d have ready. A cup of tea would help her relax, and give her a chance to think. She still needed a plan, and would want to talk with the others to get their suggestions. She mulled that over as she went to her room where she expected Jakob would likely have the tea already waiting for her.
Lilith made what sounded like happy chirping noises as she nodded her head up and down. "O yea I'd love to." She spun around on her little ball. For a dragon she was a lot smaller then Lucien. Only a fraction of the size yet her happiness could be felt by the whole group. "I'll get some tea ready for when your done my lady." Jakob said with a bow. Valentine and Azura waved goodbye as she left. Gunther had left for the barrack but said goodnight before leaving.
Lilith led Arora to the edge of the castle walls. "So, I will start from the beginning. The castle was cover our entire safe zone. It has three entrances. One in the east, south and west. Outside the walls our portals to other realms and areas like this. I don’t even know where all of them lead but do be careful. Should you leave the area and enter another portal I don’t know what you may encounter." With that she led over to area with several buildings. "This is the shopping area. You can buy and sell weapons for Anna. Her and her sister come and go all the time. I don’t know how they found this place but they seem nice another. Also, Anna sister are all named Anna and look the same. I can tell them apart most of the time but somehow, they can somehow though." Lilith shook her head. "It wired I know just don’t think about it too much." With that she led her to another area that had several farms and cattle. "This the farming side. I mostly do this with magic but the other said they would start to help. And that most of our castle at the moment. The only things left is the barrack and your house with you already been to. Most rooms are pretty large for each person and they can custom them how every they want to."
Arora listened, sighing in relief hearing that they had come in time to save Gunter. “I’m glad we could find you and get you back here safely.”
Arora’s eyes widened slightly when Azura reminded her of Lilith. She nodded and was quick to return then. How long had they been gone? Time moved faster there, so it could have been days. Lilith confirmed that when they did get back. Four days. Would Lucien still be asleep? It was possible. But Lilith mentioning other buildings got her curious. She tilted her head,”Really? Wow, you’re amazing, Lilith. Would it be too much trouble if you showed me around a bit? I’m still not sure I know where everything is, and I’d love if you could show me everything you’ve done.”
She was hoping the tour would keep her mind from wandering back to the canyon and Valla, and keep her and everyone else too busy to wonder too much about where her and Azura had gone. Besides that, she needed to start making plans, and that meant knowing what they had and what they didn’t.
Azura turned to Gunter and said, "We can't speak of that place while not there or else a curse will kill you." Gunter nodded as he dismounted his horse. "I understand. I heard some of the men talking about is while I was hiding." He then turned to the others. "As for your question my lady. I was supposed to meet up with you during your mission to the bottomless canyon. However shortly after getting there I ran into your father's man named Han. After a short conversation he attacked me and pushed me into the canyon."
A gasp escaped Valentine as she listened. "Why would he do that? Don't you both work for the king?" She asked. Gunter nodded. "Yes, however Hans is a criminal that Prince Xander arrested him after he attack some guards. Shortly after that the king hired time as private help. He told me before I fell that it wasn’t anything personal just business and next was you my lady. I have been fighting in that other world for almost three days now. I was about to give up hope until I heard you all fighting." He walked over to his horse leaned against it. "Seeing as you aren’t hurt he must have failed. I'm guessing your boy Lucien dealt with him. As much as I like to talk more I should rust and set up came. " Azura turn to Arora. "We have been gone several hours we should check back in with Lilith and rest ourselves and make a plan." After returning Lilith waited for them. "Welcome home Arora I hope your trip was fun. You been gone for about four days and most of the work on the other building is done if you want use them.
That sparked a hope in Arora. If she could get Lucien to follow her here she could tell him. Hearing that the same Anankos that Azura was warning them about was here and had found them made her blood run cold and she reconsidered. It was dangerous here, clearly. She couldn’t recklessly bring people here just to tell them. Azura clearly felt the danger was worth it to tell Arora. This was Azura’s chance to actually do something about Valla and Anankos apparently.
Arora followed, quietly in thought but alert for danger. Invisible foes. It was strange, but Arora adapted to fighting them without too much difficulty. She’d been trained well, and did her part in the struggle with little said.
Blue hair? Arora only caught a glimpse of the strange woman before rushing after Azura and jumping without any of her previous hesitation. Azura had gotten them here safely, Arora trusted her to get them out safely.
She was still relieved to find herself on solid land at the top of the canyon. Arora nodded to Jakob,”Yes, I’m fine. Are you?”
Gunter? Arora looked at the man, her eyes wide. She hadn’t expected to see him here. “Gunter! It’s good to see you. I’m as well as can be expected. What about you? How did you…?”
Arora hesitated, not sure how much she could say or ask. The curse weighed on her mind. This was a heavy burden Azura had to carry for so long. Arora continued, a little slower,”How did you find us? Oh, and do you know what’s going on in Nohr right now?”
It wouldn’t have been long out here, she hoped, but she still wondered how things were going. If Xander or the others had said anything else since she’d left.
"This is the only place that you can talk about Valla is in Valla," She said look out into the distance. "If you are able to get other to follow you then, being here is the only way we came we can tell them the truth. However, we can't tell them while out." Suddenly a large roar could be heard off in the direction. "We must move soon. He has found out that we are here," She started walking toward a cave that wasn't to far-off.
"Who found us?" Jakob asked looking around only to see nothing.
"Anankos" was all she said as she entered the cave. Look at Arora Jakob waited til she and Valentine had entered before he took up the rear. The cave was very open. It could easily fit several men side by side.
"We need to move quickly and find a way out and get back the edge of one of the islands," Azura said lead the way. How every after a several feet a blur could be seen in fount of them. "Watch out most of Ananoks force are mostly invisible. It looks like we will need to fight our way out please be careful." Jakob dealt with several as Valentine handle most of the ones that came in front. Leaveing the sides to Arora. They seemed good, but slow at the same time Valentine speed let her easily cut them down. Jakob had range on most of them but also could take them down if any got too close.
"I can see light" Valentine said after cut down another foe. The light was coming from an opening several yard away. However, a few enemies stood in the way. "They don't give up do they?" wiping the sweet from her brow.
"This end now." A voice yelled as a man on a horse cut down the men from behind. "Hurry this way." An older voice called. Running to follow the man they looked back in time to see a woman with long blue hair staring at them. Coming out of the cave Azura wasted no time looking for an escape.
"Quickly jump," she said pointing and running before jumping off the edge. This time the other didn't waste any time in following her. They found them selves back in bottomless canyon. "That was close." Jakob panted. "Are you all right my lady?"
"Thank you for helping us," Azura said turning to the man on the horse with blake armor. "That quite all right. I'm always will to help my old students. This caused Jakob to look up. "Gunter? What are you doing here." He was shocked to see the old solider.
"That is a long story my friend, but for now lets get moving." He trotted his horse up to Arora. "How are you doing my lady?" He offered his hand. Gunter had been Arora first trainer and guardian while in the castle. He had watched the girl grow from a little girl to a woman. He had help train her in sword men's ship while Lucien couldn't. "I hope your not hurt." Gunter was in his late 60, but had refused to stop watching Arora.
Arora still half expected to hit the ground as they were falling. Instead she found herself standing, feeling a little disoriented. That feeling wasn’t helped when she saw her surroundings, and the way the land seemed to float. She wondered for a moment if she were dead, but that didn’t seem quite right. She still felt alive.
She listened attentively to Azura’s explanation. She’d never heard of this kingdom, but as Azura went on she understood why. If this Anankos was manipulating things then the history of this kingdom could have been hidden, especially if hardly anyone survived.
Arora was eager to tell the others like Valentine, but her heart fell when Azura explained they couldn’t. A curse like that sounded awful, and Arora’s throat tightened. She couldn’t even tell Lucien, could she?
Arora nodded silently, trying to take it in. How could she avoid telling Lucien? Then Arora frowned slightly,”That does sound terrible, but then… how are you able to tell us? You will be alright, won’t you?”
The thought that Azura might put herself at risk of the curse troubled Arora. She didn’t want to gain Azura just to lose her. Despite Azura being a princess of Valla rather than properly Nohr or Hoshido, Arora thought of her as family. She had been part of her Nohrian family as well as then being raised by Arora’s Hoshidan family. And Azura was the only one to side with her so far.
For what seemed like ever they fell until they where all engulf in darkness. And then they were standing there on a ledge of what looked like a floating island. But, it wasn't the only one sevearal move floated around the area. "This is Valla," Azura said. "This once was a kingdom that exist with Nohr and Hoshido. However that changed when King Anankos came to power. Before his arrival, this land was a peaceful one. All was well until Anankos killed our king and took the throne for himself. Once bountiful farmlands were devastated, replaced by wastelands and graveyards."
"He destroyed an entire kingdom?! For no reason at all?" Jakob asked.
Azura took a second to answer. "Yes. And he isn't finished. He wishes to lay waste to the entire world. First Valla, then Nohr and Hoshido. Even now, he's the hidden influence that quietly forces Nohr and Hoshido to fight. King Garon'sinvasion is the result of Anankos's subtle manipulations."
"That's horrible!" Valentine said shocked. "But...if it's true, then maybe we can stop this war by defeating Anankos! We need to get back up above and explain this to everyone! If we can get Nohr and Hoshido to work together with—"
Azura shock her head "I'm sorry, but you can't. You mustn't talk about Valla to anyone when you're beyond its borders. If you do, you'll trigger a curse that will cause your body to dissolve and disappear. That's what happened to my mother... To Arete, the former queen of Valla."
Valentine seemed even more shocked. "What? Your mother was a queen in Valla, not Nohr? Then, that makes you..."
Azura nodded "Yes... I am a Vallite princess. The king that Anankos murdered... He was my father."
"No! And you were forced to flee?" Jokab asked.
Yes... But I wasn't able to tell anyone about this before. Because of that curse... Even if I wanted to talk, I couldn't. I was trapped—no matter how much I missed my parents. I had to keep it all bottled up inside... ...Until now." She said turning away from them.
"My lady," Valentine said he voice soft.
Azura held up a hand, "Listen, Arora. I'm sorry to say this, but... Now that you've chosen this path, you'll know exactly what I've been feeling. No matter how much you want someone to understand what's happening... No matter how much you want to tell them the truth... You won't be able to tell them. You need to prepare yourself for that. I can't even express how painful it is to know the truth and not be able to say it."
Arora was surprised at how prepared Lilith was. She was too tired to do much exploring, but what she did see was impressive. She was also impressed and pleased that Jakob had managed to make dinner for everyone.
That night Arora slept deeply, and woke feeling more refreshed physically. Mentally she still felt exhausted. She would need a plan to gain allies in order to accomplish anything. For the moment though she had to meet with Azura and let everyone recover. Even knowing time moved to their advantage here she still felt pressed for time. She wasn’t used to it.
When she found Azura, along with Jakob and Valentine, Arora nodded that she was ready. Whatever it was Azura wanted to talk with her had to be important. Arora’s curiosity grew as Azura led them out of the space, and to the canyon. She had no idea why they had to go all the way here, and looked alarmed when Azura jumped. Trust her? Valentine followed without any hesitation. Was it safe? How could it possibly be?
Did she trust Azura? Arora stepped closer to the edge. Azura had come with her, trusting her. Arora looked at Jakob and nodded, then took a deep breath and jumped after Azura. Lucien would think she was crazy, but she wanted to trust Azura, and that Azura wasn’t suicidally crazy.
The day was quiet after that. At some point Jakob somehow made dinner for everyone minus Lucien. "There are several farms in the area," He had said when asked. Lilith had confirmed that she had started up everything they would need to set up a base camp. "It has room for a hole army if you need it for that. It will also let you recover while not wasting time in your world." Night and day seem to work the same as well although there was no sun that could be seen.
He next day Azora Jakob and Valentine waited for Arora to join them. "Are you ready?" Azura asked. She then lead the way out of the portal back to the normal world. Nothing seemed to change in the "hour" they had been gone. Load shouts could be heard in the distions but other than that the area was clear. "Come now follow me." After about an hour was walking they came to the bottomless canyon. "I need you to trust me on this please." She said as she walked next to the edge. "Please follow me." And with that she jumped in to the Canyon. Valentine then jumped not giving it a second thought. Jakob was taken a back and look to Arora for guidance.
Arora laughed a little, looking at Lucien asleep for a few seconds. She knew he wouldn’t wake up for a while. After that Arora started walking, going to see about the others and resting herself when she ran into Azura.
Bring about something. That was one way to put it, Arora supposed. She nodded,”Oh, alright. Tomorrow then.” She wondered what it could be Azura wanted to tell her. She didn’t know Azura well, so she didn’t have any real ideas. It would be good to talk though and get to know her better. “Azura? Thank you. I know we don’t know each other very well, but I’m glad to have you with me.”
Lucien yawed. "I'll be out for a while so don't do anything crazy while I'm asleep okay." He then transformed into a dragon and laid down. He was out like a brick. Normal his dream where other blank or nightmare. However, when he felt close to one he loved and loved him his dream wore warmer and lighthearted. He had first found this with Say'ri shortly after they married. Then later with Luna and now he felt it with Arora. His grandmother had blessed him with many loved ones
Shortly after Lucien Azura came to find Arora. "You seem better," She said smiling. "Did your talk with Lucien bring about something? Never the less there is something I must tell you. However, I can't tell you here. You must trust me and follow me tommorrow after most of us recover."
Arora nodded. She was eager to learn to fly. It would be a bright spot in what otherwise seemed a pretty bleak situation when she looked at it. And with Lucien asleep it would give her something to do.
Arora got up and brushed the dust off herself. She smiled and shook her head,”You don’t need to repay me or anything. But I am glad you’re here, Lucien. I.. I love you too. So I’ll be here for you too, okay?”
She stretched, trying to feel more active and less mopy,”You should find a nice spot to sleep. I know you’re probably about to collapse or something.”
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