Juniper pulled a face a little and Mirriam was just glad the two were alright and Juniper hadn't got themselves killed. Juniper followed as they were lead through some tunnels and hallways, Juniper craning her neck now and then to try and see where they were going. Mirriam walked in silence and Juniper wanted to ask a whole lot of questions but was quiet when they exited and witnessed something completely extraordinary. The city was like some patch of artistry. The city seemed almost built into the mountain and Juniper squinted in the light, stopping to stare at the majesty of this hidden kingdom the dwarves had built for themselves and kept secreted away. Juniper heard the Dwarf and moved on, following Barut down and staring right back at the dwarves who stared at them.
"Dinner, I suppose." Mirriam said, begrudgingly. She seemed on edge, Juniper just figured they were curious, the same way she was about them. She eyed them over, surprised to see them in all their glory and she wrinkled her nose as the smell of heat and iron entered her nostrils. It was unfamiliar and new. She looked to Taog and cocked her head, he seemed nervous too.
"They're just curious." She said, following the group into a large and grand stone building. Benches of oak were lined up and a roaring fire blazed in the room to keep it warm and heated. Barut eyed the small congregation of Dwarves awaiting them and things seemed tense. Juniper figured it was best to keep quiet.
"You come here speaking of war." One Dwarf spoke up and offered a seat to the small cluster of representatives of the caravan of people and Juniper nodded and looked to the benches, taking a seat at the table and she figured this was one of those moments it was best not to offend their hosts.
"War with the Great One, no less, what exactly makes you so confident?" He asked and looked to Barut who had sat opposite him at the table. Barut looked to Juniper and Taog for a moment, nodding in their direction. The dwarf stroked his beard thoughtfully,
"I heard Mothra died at the Ice Lake, nasty business." He explained and smirked some, Barut nodding.
"Any being that kills a Council member is a friend here. Come, feast and drink. Barut, let us speak longer." He murmured.
So the Dwarves didn't think the Great One could be warred with. After seeing the slaughter the Great One had left behind after his use for the Dwarves ended, Taog understood why the Dwarves would say that. Their stories of the Great One were grim and bloody. Barut seemed convinced however and after Mothra's death, who were they to think differently? Nothing remained forever.
For a moment Taog thought Barut's words would offend the Dwarves, but then their leader agreed to give them passage and serve them a meal at the very least. Their story seemed to be one worth listening to. Taog breathed out in relief, because it meant they had a chance at this. He did feel sorry for Juniper's hair however and for her being subject to Mirriam's wrath. Stubborn Fey. She rarely listened to what she was told to do, did she?
Taog hid his smile, fearing Mirriam might notice his amusement and direct her attention to him instead.
The Dwarves lead them down hallways and corridors. Taog still felt his legs weren't quite his, but he wanted to walk rather than ride their horses again. If he kept moving, his mind couldn't suddenly be swayed into remembering some vision or other. Or so he thought. He felt tired still and in this darkness it was hard to tell whether he'd actually slept a whole night or not. Taog didn't think so. He rather be awake and tired anyway. He was done dreaming for now.
Behind them, the loud echo of the closing doors could be heard. If the Council followed them, they wouldn't be able to easily get through.
Soon enough the corridors fanned out into a slope. Light made him lift his hand to try and block out the sudden light reflecting off the snowy mountain tops. When his vision cleared, Taog could see a city. It wasn't large, but still impressive enough to leave him staring. Smoke circled into the sky, houses were built up the slope, some situated in the stony mountain itself. At the base was a great building, almost like a temple or castle.
"Don't just stand there gaping," the Dwarf said and ushered them down the slopes. As they approached, the buildings grew in size. It was a formidable city. Many a Dwarf watched their arrival with equal amounts of curiosity and distrust. Taog felt a little uncomfortable at the animosity.
It felt as if he was back at the Vale.
He could smell iron on the air. Was that how they made their weapons? By melting certain parts of the Earth?
Taog hadn't ever seen buildings like these. Those in the Vale were much flimsier. Rock and metal, combined with wood, made for sturdy houses for the Dwarves though.
"Where are they taking us?" he asked Mirriam. Were they prisoners? Because it felt like that.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 9d 13h 51m 32s
Juniper could feel the heat of Mirriam's glare on her and she actively avoided looking at her. She wasn't really ashamed of her actions, it had worked hadn't it? She followed behind Barut and Taog, looking to the dwarves. They looked battle ready and yet so weary. She was curious as she looked over each of them, listening to what was going on. They wielded heavy weapons that Juniper doubted she could even lift and they were made with utter mastery.
"The Great One cannot be warred with, war is a skill and one of honour." A red bearded dwarf boomed with a voice that seemed bigger than his size somehow. Juniper figured that was their leader, or at least their spokesperson.
"He is not invincible. With your help, and the help of the other races we stand in good chances to destroy him." Barut explained calmly and Juniper could tell this was unsteady ground as they tried to traverse what was going on.
"Pretty Fey and Elven folk won't save you." The dwarf remarked once more and Juniper frowned a little at that but held her tongue, knowing full well she would be in trouble if she spoke up again.
"And this is what you would rather, hiding in your caves and holes, waiting for death?" Barut remarked and Juniper was taken aback as she watched the exchange, "At least give us safe passage." Barut remarked, "We have children and women who are not part of this quarrel." He finished and the Dwarf regarded him for a moment.
"You will dine with us, we will hear your case and send you on your way with or without us." The red headed man grunted before eyeing the caravan of people. He started down the halls and corridors and Juniper was a little nervous. The last meal her and Taog attended had not gone well for them and she looked to Taog, eyes betraying her trepidation but she knew better than to say anything out loud.
"I suppose you think you're rather clever." Mirriam remarked as the force started to move, "You could have been shot out of the air." Mirriam said sternly.
"But I wasn't." Juniper pointed out, "Besides, all we have to do is speak nicely with them, who'd have thought?" She said and Mirriam rolled her eyes and looked like she might pull her own hair out from frustration. At times, Mirriam was exceptionally glad she was not a mother.
They shared a glance and though Mirriam said not to go up there, Juniper's wings fanned out and she caught a breeze to fly up there with. It was the first time Taog had seen a Fey fly and it was nothing short of miraculous. He felt a certain respect for how delicate and beautiful her wings were, carrying Juniper up with strength and precision.
"Juniper!" Mirriam called after her, but it was too late.
Taog realized that if these people meant to harm them, Juniper would fall first, followed swiftly by the rest of them. They could flee however. He doubted Juniper could. The only reason fear didn't grip his heart, was because Taog still vividly recalled the vision of them walking through the door to see the city on the other side. In most all of them, Juniper was with them. Tian seemed less concerned than Mirriam too, who was practically fuming. Barut looked stern and vigilant. If something went wrong, he would call the shots.
And then Taog started away from the door. The mechanism slotted in place and with a heavy groan, the door started to drag open. Taog caught sight of some weights, lowering on the other side, pulling on the large doors. Dust billowed up as they moved and Taog raised his arm to protect his eyes.
Barut was the first to step towards the door.
With baited breath, the people of Haven watched their self-proclaimed leader step ahead. On the other side, still up high, several Dwarves stood. Taog followed Barut and looked at them. They looked somewhat similar to the Dwarf they'd met who was with the Council. These Dwarves wore armour too, but theirs was battle-worn and had less to do with display than practicality. They were stocky figures, very different than Barut or himself. Barut was a Sorcerer, but his build was heavier than that of a Fey. Taog felt he would be no match against these Dwarves if they had a clash of strength.
He didn't sense magic however.
Not that he expected to do so.
"We are the people of Haven," Barut said. He didn't speak Dwarven either, Taog suspected. "We freely oppose the Council and their ways."
Taog looked back at Juniper. Had they said anything to her?
"State your business," one of the Dwarves grunted.
Barut seemed taken aback, but was quick to catch himself. His eyes flicked back to Taog and Juniper, then to the Dwarves again.
"We wish to war the Great One."
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 10d 1h 53m 30s
Juniper wasn't sure what she expected to come from the knocking, for the door to miraculously open? She hummed slightly, it was a little bit of a far fetched idea that knocking would simply open up a door. She grumbled a little and looked to Taog, smiling a little. She followed his gaze upwards and cocked her head. They had a watch point up there and she flared her wings but Mirriam stopped her,
"Let's not have you getting shot out of the sky." Mirriam remarked and waved Barut over and Juniper frowned a little. She watched the figure and they seemed to be watching. She waved, figuring they would at least take them as friendly if they acted like it. Probably best to not to go all the way up, that was a long drop. She was still contemplating it though, then again that would mean being up there alone.
Juniper glanced to Taog, she felt replenished enough and she grinned some before flaring her wings again and letting what small breeze there was sweep her up as she raised her hands in surrender, getting eye level with the guard and landing on a ridged bit of stone.
"Open the door, I promise you'll want to hear us out." Juniper said as she gave them a bright smile, ready to jump and glide down if they looked hostile. There was more than one, thick, bearded men with sharp eyes and Juniper was pretty sure she was taller than a few of them. They grunted in some foreign tongue and one went lumbering off to find someone. Juniper looked down, feeling a little exposed as she kept a close eye on the other dwarves who were watching her just as keenly.
The mechanism on the door ground out, causing a racket in the chamber and Juniper looked down again to see the door opening, clouds of dust billowing from it. She nodded to the dwarf and jumped from the ledge, wings fanned out as she landed with a soft thud and curled her wings back in. She dusted herself off and looked to Barut who was staring at her,
"Do you speak dwarven?" He asked and Juniper shook her head,
"Sometimes you just have to ask, not everything needs figured out." She said and Barut chuckled and shook his head before taking the lead and heading inside. Juniper followed and fixed her cloak and such, hoping this went well and it wasn't an ambush or something.
Both Barut and Tian tried at the door all night. Taog watched them. Tian would return and ask questions. Occasionally an answer he hadn't wanted to say escaped his tongue, but as the night wore on, Taog felt more in control. More like himself in a way.
"Why don't you sleep?" Fir asked. It was early. She stretched and yawned, a young held on one arm. Taog shrugged.
"We're safe here," she tried.
"I want to be awake," Taog said plainly.
Tian shook her head at Fir, wordlessly conveying for her to leave well alone. Not that he managed to stay awake for all of it. Occasionally the flood of memories would overwhelm and Taog was left dazed, waiting for them all to simmer back down to a place he felt they belonged. Juniper woke after a while, stretching and chilled it seemed. Mirriam came around with something to eat, which Taog took only because his body was craving the food. They ate in silence.
Taog shook his head. They did not have a key of any sort. Barut had been frustrated, trying as he could with the cleverest of the group to figure it out. They had someone called Inary read some of the symbols, trying to translate the old language. Barut's scribbles now spanned most of the leather hide he'd written on.
He focussed on his food, licking the bowl clean using his fingers.
His eyes followed Juniper as she moved to the door. Taog tilted his head and then sighed out, rising up to follow. It was a large door. He'd seen it earlier, but Taog did feel small near it. He wondered why the Dwarves would have made the doors this large, but looked around their livestock to realize they might have had more in mind than just a casual person or two to wander through.
The echo of the metal ricocheted through the cavernous chambers.
She was probably right saying the Dwarves didn't know they were there. And if they were as reclusive as Barut made it out to be, they'd probably keep things that way. Nothing but silence remained as the echoes finally died down. Taog reached out to the door. There were fine engraved symbols in the metal and he traced them with his fingers. He had no idea what they meant. Elroch hadn't taught him how to read or write anything. Useless skills, for someone who was outcast and had to survive without the protection of a group.
And then he heard something. Faintly.
Taog looked up.
Through an opening far above the door, someone was watching them.
"Up there," he whispered at Juniper.
"Someone's watching us." A guard?
A statue? A Dwarf?
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 10d 12h 48m 31s
Juniper had slept longer than she had expected, she didn’t know if it was morning or afternoon, time didn’t seem to matter in this place. Juniper didn’t feel detached from her magic here despite it being in some dark and dank cave system. There was still magic here, in the stones and crystals that flowed away. She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand, sitting up slowly as she tried to come to terms with the waking world around her. She looked around, bleary eyed. She hadn’t dreamt, exhaustion had been too much to deal with and she shivered for a moment as she moved the blanket from herself, looking around to try and figure out what was happening. The door was still shut, whatever mysteries it held still concealed away.
She grumbled about something and Mirriam approached with hot broth, setting it down for her. It would take her a while to wake up after yesterday and Juniper just nodded to the woman wordlessly. She didn’t have much of an appetite as she stirred the contents despondently. It tasted better than the tea she had been victim to the past day or so. She huddled around the warm bowl and fixed some hair from her face, watching Barut who was still trying to figure out the doors mechanisms and the puzzle surrounding it. She turned her gaze to Taog,
“I figure we don’t have a key.” She murmured, maybe if they had a dwarf amongst their numbers they would know how to open it but something told her the door was old magic, it was built for keeping people out rather than letting them inside.
Juniper finished her broth and put it aside, she got to her feet, stretching her limbs and looking herself over. She needed to get as strong as Taog, she knew that and she couldn’t be left waiting at the wayside. She wandered over to the door, touching the surface. Her magic was useless against it and she knew that almost immediately. She couldn’t bend the wood and stone to her will, she would hurt herself in the process.
“We could just knock? They might not know we’re here.” She suggested, mostly to herself. Maybe they had guards watching the door and Juniper looked to Barut who just shrugged.
“Dwarves and their riddles, they’re almost as bad as Seers.” He said with a glint of amusement and Juniper just gave a half smile before knocking three times hard on the door, the sound echoing around the chambers.
He watched over Juniper's sleep for a while. Taog wasn't sure how long. Inside the cave it was hard to tell what time had passed. No sunlight, no moonlight, no stars. Only darkness greeted them. Darkness, the fires they'd lit and the ominous glow of the crystals embedded inside the mountain rock. Tian found him gazing into the fire and gently touched his shoulder, "are you okay?"
Taog watched Tian for a second, then took a deep breath and nodded.
"I can give you something to sleep?"
He shook his head.
Tian looked at him for a moment, watching him closely. Taog hadn't been awake for long enough to grow concerned yet. She gave a careful smile.
"It is hard, seeing all of that," Tian said. No riddles this time. Taog cocked his head, reminded of Juniper's drowsy questions about their deaths. He hadn't dared answer. It didn't matter. No one should know how they died, because knowing would prevent them from living the way they should.
"The dreams will fade," she explained. "And sometimes they will return to us. Always, they will leave reality in their wake."
"Don't confuse the boy," Barut said. He was moody, evidently. Taog looked up, but couldn't judge whether Barut had given up on the door for now or was leaving some others to try while resting up himself. He was there for Tian, obviously. Taog felt a little uncomfortable staying, but Juniper was there and they were here first.
"I don't know what these symbols mean," Barut said and showed Tian a parchment he'd been sketching them on. It seemed Barut was trying to make sense of the symbols. Taog toyed with some pebbles on the floor, playing with his flames. How difficult would it be to melt the mechanism and just open the door? They were big doors. Big enough to let through their animals and wagons. Taog wondered where they would lead. Further down? Up?
Would the mountain be hollow or would they simply find a passage through to the other side. Taog saw a city, nestled against the side of the mountain, protected from the harsh weather by the towering rock itself. Snow littered the streets and rooftops, smoke travelled up, mixing in with the clouds circling the spire of the mountain.
Taog saw how the beasts they owned wandered through the halls. But they weren't alone. Dwarves accompanied them, for better or worse. Captives?
He couldn't quite tell.
Taog blinked awake, finding himself somewhat slumped down, but not quite fallen. As if frustrated with himself, he sat back up and took a deep breath.
Tian watched him, but neither said anything. Taog brushed by his eyes, wiping the sleep from them and he shifted, moved. He wanted his legs to feel his own again. He wanted his head to be clear as it had been before the rite.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 11d 10h 34m 26s
Juniper watched Taog as he spoke with hazy eyes and smiled lazily, contently as she was comfortable now. He seemed more at ease, more relaxed somehow like he had commanded reality. It was nice to see him more confident, own himself as opposed to being ashamed of what he was. Juniper shifted onto her back and gazed up at some of the crystals that glowed and lit the cave, lost in a dream like state of not quite asleep but certainly almost there.
"Bet'cha saw us die too." She said quietly, she knew Tian had and she pondered if he had seen it. Juniper wasn't scared of dying but she was afraid of pain or becoming like Ren, unnatural and horribly empty. She could think of nothing worse
"You don't have to tell me, not really but I would like to know if it's quick and clean, and if it isn't then I'd want it to be." She breathed softly and watched the glowing on the cavern ceiling and walls. It was a foolish thing to say, and it wasn't like she could change it if he explained some torturous death and slow death. Maybe if she knew for sure she could make it quick and clean, somehow she felt like it wouldn't be her choice and she figured maybe it was best to not know. Now that she was warm and comfortable. She looked to the fire and inched a little closer, as close as she dared without catching fire herself and she closed her eyes.
The tea Mirriam had been filling her with made sure that she felt content and warm inside, save for her fingers now which she had tucked under the blanket. Would Taog become like Tian one day, talking in riddles and stories and seeing wonderous things that no one else could ever dream of? Juniper's eyes felt heavy, finally slipping shut and she gave in to the pull of sleep and unconsciousness that she had been desperately searching for despite everything. She had wanted to remain awake and take in some precious time with Taog, but she had expended energy she couldn't really afford to lose and the rest on horseback had been broken and patchy at best.
He was offered bread. Taog regarded Juniper, but sighed when she reasoned the herbal drinks had filled her up plenty. With a shake of his head, Taog took the food and sat down near the fire, plucking at the crust of the bread.
"It's a mechanism," Tao said. "There are symbols on the door. I wonder if it even opens to this side," he shrugged. If they couldn't find a way through, then they'd have to find a way to stir the Dwarves into investigating somehow. Taog tried to remember whether he'd seen something in his visions, but the events in the 'now' felt like ages ago. Amber eyes stared into the fire. If he remained still, thoughts surfaced. Not visions, not really memories, but dreams. There were many.
Taog almost forgot to eat, until Juniper's voice cut through and he shook himself.
"I'm still me," Taog reassured Juniper. "I just. It was a long dream," he said, apologetically. He'd worried a great deal of people and Taog felt bad for it, because all he'd done was sleep, he felt like. Or maybe not sleep entirely. His body certainly felt strained and worn, as if he'd been fighting or suffering nightmares, but he relished being awake. Reality felt so much more novel now that he'd dreamt for so long. Crisp and clear.
This was the only path, the only truth. Dreams were just that; dreams.
What happened here was what mattered. That feeling hadn't changed.
"Tian said it will fade," Tao said. "The dreams that I saw. My memory of them will fade," he explained. With the food gone, Taog rested his elbows on his knees and watched Juniper. Mirriam was to cut her hair?
What for? Not that it mattered. Juniper's hair would grow back, surely.
Taog ran a hand through his hair, self-conscious now that Juniper had started about it. Was he that different? To him, it felt like he'd been on a long journey before returning here. He felt and remembered being with Juniper as lovers. He missed those moments, felt sad for those they'd lost in the battle and powerless to change it all the way it should be. How should the future be? In some futures he'd died too.
He couldn't do anything if he died. Taog sighed out and shifted, rubbing by his eyes. He was tired, but too wired to sleep. His head just kept churning with memories and thoughts. Taog looked over at the door. Would Barut figure it out or would they have to do something drastic to get the Dwarves to pay them attention?
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 11d 11h 40m 49s
Juniper sighed out softly. Of course no one could know for sure but she wanted to know if Drit and Elaroch and all of them had known what they were doing. She fell quiet when he said too many would die, was she among them? Was he? She loosened her grip as he went to see the door and she was reluctant for a moment to let him go but said nothing when he flashed her a reassuring smile. He was different, more confident. Juniper dismounted the horse, feeling better since the rest but she knew she would need more sleep. It was Mirriam who led her to a quiet patch she could bed down in as they started a fire,
“If it’s too uncomfortable, then use one of the carriages.” She remarked and Juniper just shook her head as she sank down and Mirriam gave her some bread. Juniper picked at it meagrely and looked around.
Her green eyes moved to Taog when he returned and she offered him some bread,
“Really, the tea is filling.” She said, cringing at the thought of those bitter herbs and petals. They were replenishing though. She looked to the door as she tucked under her blanket, propped up against the wall.
“How do we get in? Say please?” She joked, trying to lighten the mood because the past few days had been stressful. She had missed Taog, he’d become a familiar and trusted face.
“You changed.” She said quietly to him, “Not just your markings. How you talk, even how you walk.” It wasn’t a bad thing, not at all. In fact it was almost nice to see him come into his element but she was still wary. She wasn’t advancing as quickly as he was and she didn’t want to be left behind or become a burden like Ren, slowing them down.
“I thought something terrible happened.” She said as she shuffled closer to the fire, a little chilled as she got herself comfortable and frowned,
“I figure we can hold off on the Dwarves. Mirriam is going to cut my hair.” She mumbled, barely remembering. Her hair was long and she had to admit sometimes it was a hinderance but she liked it. It would save her life if it was cut back a little. Juniper wasn’t in any rush to find the Dwarves, couldn’t she just revel a little by the fire’s warmth and Taog’s presence? She closed her eyes and listened to the fire occasionally crackle and spit, wrapping her arms around herself.
"This is just an outpost," Taog found himself saying. Juniper seemed more awake. Her hands shifted to his shoulders and Tao shook his head. Was that how Tian had been having conversations with him? The words seemed to just escape him untethered.
"Convincing them won't be the toughest part. Getting to meet them in the first place..." Barut had to have a plan, right? To summon the Dwarves to at least meet with them to speak? Tao wasn't entirely sure which words lead to what future no more, but he did know that once they did start to talk, convincing the Dwarves wouldn't be difficult. It was an opportunity given to a race who was tired of hiding, to come out and join the war-efforts to overthrow the Great One's control and find redemption for the betrayal inflicted on their race so many years ago. After all, the Dwarves really had no ill will towards the other races.
Taog pondered whether that meant fewer Dwarves were sacrificed. But then, what about that Council member? The Dwarf?
Juniper's voice stirred the silence.
"I don't know," he said. He was not a mind-reader, after all. If Drit and the others had known, there was still the choice of whether or not to sacrifice two for the greater good. Two for many. And then two again. And again. The cycle never ended.
Taog took a deep breath and looked around their group.
"Too many," Tao said finally and shifted.
"I want to see the door," he said and carefully climbed from Juniper's hold. After a reassuring smile, Taog moved between the people to reach the front-line, where Tian and Barut gushed over the markings on the door. Mirriam seemed to argue something with another Seer and Taog caught sight of Ren down the ranks, stuck in a carriage.
Were they doing the right thing guiding them all down into the mountain?
Taog's amber eyes regarded the door. He remembered some of the details; there was a mechanism and a key to it. Not a physical key, more like a puzzle. Barut was reading something from a scroll as he looked at the door and tried to decipher the texts on the door. Taog figured they would be staying here to rest then, until they could figure out the door. Some of the people were already retreating, further down the slope and bridge, fanning out to explore and find places to bed down for the night. Everyone looked weary. Taog felt guilty for having slept through what seemed like a tiresome journey for many. He went back to find Juniper and to make sure she rested up. If need be, he could destroy the mechanism in the door and find a way through, but Taog didn't want that. That door was to keep things out. It would be best if they were let in, instead.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 12d 10h 53m 33s
Taog's voice was a dull comfort, succumbing to some time of sleep and when she awoke, they were heading down a slope. Juniper lifted her head and looked around, catching a glimpse of the large door that no doubt had their location behind it. It looked immovable and Juniper wondered how exactly they planned on getting it open. She set her dazed eyes around to see Barut looking concerned. Where were they? She didn't think she had slept long, not enough to feel properly rested but she figured that was normal. She rubbed her eyes and tried to wake up a little more, adjusting her position and trying to get comfortable in some way. She eyed the bridge, in no state to help or aid it all in any way right then. This wasn't naturally made, it was crafted and carved out. She figured it must have been made by the Dwarves of the mountains and Juniper eyed the bridge as they approached.
Was it trapped? Juniper tensed slightly, she doubted it with the door on the other side and she shifted her hands to Taog's shoulder for balance to stop herself slipping off.
"Is this it?" She asked quietly, wondering what would be behind the doors. Dwarves loved gold and shiny things, she figured maybe it would be great riches or maybe in the isolation they found themselves crawling in darkness.
"Do you know how we get them on our side?" She asked Taog quietly as she gestured towards the door. Dwarves were stubborn but formidable from the stories she had heard about them but they never took kindly to others being around and enjoyed their privacy ultimately. She pulled her cloak more around herself and her eyes stung trying to stay open.
"Tao." She murmured, something had been bothering her for a while, "Do you think Drit and the others knew what they were sending us to?" She asked quietly, Drit had been like a mentor to her, like family and the thought of him knowing what was happening and sending her to her death without so much as a second guess was disturbing. She figured it didn't matter now, they would just have to be wary about who they trusted and where they placed their trust. An army of shadows and rot infested creatures wouldn't be pleasant to face but Juniper knew they couldn't run from this.
"Do you know who falls?" She asked, mind catching up to everything that was going on.
What else had he seen?
"I shadows. A rot that becomes an army and we fight it," Taog said. "We won't all make it." He looked down at his hands. None of the futures showed a possibility of them all surviving the fight. Sometimes the outcome was more favourable, sometimes more disastrous.
"The Dwarves will aid us, so will the other races," Tao explained.
"The rot... it..." Taog sighed. "It taints some we love and... our spirit needs to be unwavering," he decided. Juniper's arms around his waist distracted him. In some futures they allowed their emotions to strengthen their bond. In some it became a distraction. In others he decided that risk wasn't worth it. What would he decide? Which facet would he look at?
Taog could tell Juniper was tired from using her magic.
"It'll be tough, but we can make it," Tao decided. They could, if they tried hard enough. If they were lucky and they made the right decisions, they had a chance.
"The Great One isn't without weakness," he said, determined. Some of the details rose and fell, like petals bobbing in the wind. Taog wiped at his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to keep focused on what was right in front of him, rather than be lost in the musings of dreams. He almost felt as if he'd seen everything there ever was to see for him and that having more dreams would just be watching the memory of having it during the rite. Taog also felt the visions would never again be that clear, unless he dreamt his own dreams.
Mirriam rode up next to them and fed Juniper some foul herbs. Taog pulled up his nose at them. He remembered the concoctions Tian showed him to make, but that didn't mean he liked them. Soon they'd rest. Taog felt like he'd been asleep for too long already, going by the others' reactions to him being awake, but he felt relieved for Juniper. Breaking down Earth was tough. Tougher than growing it, Taog suspected.
Soon they came across a large, cavernous opening. Arches formed from rock showed them the path to travel. The architecture was evidently Dwarven and Taog marvelled at the craftsmanship. It was evident that magic had been used to create these structures. Through the dim glow of the blue and purple rocks, Taog could see a bridge up ahead. Barut seemed nervous, as they walked down the sloping road. Beyond the bridge was a large opening, leading into the heart of the mountain. The door was closed and Taog knew very little would get it to move.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 12d 14h 16m 45s
Juniper was relieved that he decided to take up the reins because she wasn't sure she would have done all that well on her own and she wanted to save herself the embarrassment of falling asleep on her horse. She was unsure what exactly to do without being awkward and she listened to him speak about the Dwarves. He had seen the Dwarves in his visions? She wondered what else he had seen, whatever had happened had been a big deal if everyone's reactions were something to go by. She gave in to his request about rest and wrapped her arms around his waist, for balance. She looked at the tunnels and caves, lit in glowing colours. It was beautiful to see and she wondered if they were safe here. How did Taog know?
She rested her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes and listening to the echoing sounds of the cavern as they travelled,
"What else did you see?" She asked quietly, half afraid of the answers. They were just visions, she knew from Tian and Mirriam's conversation that not all of them would come true and they could be changed or warped. Did Taog know if they raised victorious or did they fall, defeated? She couldn't imagine having to to see everything that could be, no doubt some of it was horrific and mortifying and for the first time she was glad her powers resided in nature and earth. Juniper got as comfortable as she could and closed her eyes, feeling drained and Taog was warm, as always and it was comforting to have him back around and she didn't realise that she had missed him the past two days.
It was difficult to rest properly, the odd lurch of the horse or noise disturbing her and she shifted every so often. It wasn't cold down here so at least that didn't steal away her warmth and having Taog around helped. He carried a different aura around him, more mature it seemed and she felt immature in comparison, young and left behind in a way.
"Here." Mirriam had approached on a white steed with some of that foul liquid and she groaned, rubbing her eyes and sitting up swigging it down and pulling a face.
"You'll need it for the Dwarves. We'll stop to rest soon." Mirriam said with a smile before carrying to check on everyone else. Juniper sighed and got settled again, closing her eyes to exhaustion.
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