Juniper nodded to him, figuring there wasn't much to be said about his tired exterior.
"I'm okay." Juniper replied to him. It had been quite the sight to see him take on Mothra and harrowing to see what he did to her. It wasn't exactly a good time to question him and she shrugged a little, all she knew was that they were in a valley but Fir was soon upon them. She gave a small smile to Taog and honestly, she wasn't sure she wanted to leave the carriage and venture out into the cold like this. Mirriam was there and gave Juniper a look that she didn't argue with as she climbed out and got atop her horse. She groaned a little with the effort and followed the others as they plodded along. She could hear water and she eyed the lack of path as they followed on after Fir.
Juniper was quiet as she followed along, her horse confident enough now to simply be at ease. She did want to warm up, she wanted to forget what she had seen back at the lake. The verge soon opened up and below them by a few feet was a glistening pool which released steam into the cool air. Fir dismounted and headed down, confident with her strides and Juniper slid from her horse, following.
"Ah, here we go. We can rest here. This will rejuvenate everyone." Fir said with a grin and Juniper eyes the water, leaning down to touch it and she was startled when she found it was warm, almost hot to the touch. Juniper eyed some of the other pools scattered around, some inside caves and she figured Taog would want privacy as she turned her back, disrobing rather quickly before tempting the waters. Her wings hung limply at her back and the waters ate away at the cold in the air. It also served to relax her muscles as she leaned absently on the side, the waters around her shoulder comfortably.
"We'll get the others, probably a good place to rest for the rest of the night." Fir commented to Mirriam who hung around to keep an eye on the two Half-Fey that had taken the lead and needed the rest. Mirriam was distracted as she went to check some of the caverns and set up a safe place people could bed down. Juniper closed her eyes and leaned her head back on the edge of the pool, relishing in being warm and settled. It was just comfortable and the heat in the area was such a welcome break from the frost and the loss of warmth lately.
"Hey," Taog said softly, voice a bit hoarse because of the water yesterday and just waking up. Juniper brought out a water skin and Taog pulled it close. His shivers were less, but he was still trembling occasionally. Despite that, he got some water into him, enough to quench his thirst.
"Worn," Tao muttered in reply to how he felt.
He had no better way to describe his general sense of well-being. Taog moved his shoulders a little and tried to loosen up some of his muscles. He'd slept far too long. "You?" Taog knew Juniper hadn't dipped under the water, fortunately, but she'd become cold and wet too. Never mind that she'd had to watch him murder Mothra. Taog clenched his fist.
He was a murderer now.
Tao watched Juniper. She didn't seem any different. The people they travelled with had cheered him on. It'd be alright, if only he could forget the sensation of Mothra's melting skin in his hands.
"Where are we?" Taog started. He was no longer tired, but Taog didn't feel the he had the strength to walk at the same pace as the caravan did either. It'd be a while before his flames were back at the strength they had been. Every now and then, Taog fought down a shiver from crawling up his spine. Juniper looked tired. Had she stayed up to keep watch? He decided to let her rest then and looked outside.
It was Tian to greet him.
"Ho!" she called to the driver. The horses protested having to suddenly stop, but their neighing ceased quiet rapidly.
"We're here," Tian said. "Come watch," she invited.
Taog pulled himself to the end of the carriage and raised a hand to ward off the light as he sat down near the mouth of the carriage, looking out. Rich grass and wild-life surrounded them, rocks littering the landscape, but what was more remarkable was the rising stream. Water? Warm water? A stream ran a distance away, Taog could hear it. It was a sheltered place.
"The carriages can't go any further," Fir said. She smiled, relieved at seeing Taog awake and curious about the outside world again.
"We'll leave them and take the horses further up. There are caves, grottos here," Mirriam ventured. She brought their horses. Taog reached out for his, and it pressed its nose against the palm of his hand. He felt like sleeping again. The sun was nice though. Taog closed his eyes and rested, relishing the sensation of warmth on his face.
"Come on," Fir said, offering a hand. Taog huffed and made an effort to get up. He had to lean on Fir more so than he cared to admit. Between them both, he made it to sit on the horse. At least the animal was warm.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 22d 11h 55m 38s
Juniper watched Taog sink back to sleep and rubbed her face. She hadn't expended that much energy but she did want to sleep. She hunkered down again, knowing she had to rest. She got as comfortable as she could and listened to the steady breathing before glancing over to Taog, watching him with half-lidded eyes. It wasn't long until she too, succumbed to the sleep. She woke early in the morning and had some more food before watching the sights go by from the mouth of the carriage. They were in a valley and it sheltered them from the wind, from the elements and she noticed the snow was getting a little less. She was quiet as she watched the world go by, glancing over her shoulder to see Taog waking up. He had slept a lot and she was at least glad he was back in the waking world. She rummaged around for her water skin, she had filled hers and Taog's up when they stopped and she gestured to it.
He had skipped breakfast too but she figured they weren't far from the hot springs, or so she hoped. Juniper looked over Taog,
"Hey." She said to him as she adjusted her cloak around her shoulders. She was still a little cold, truth be told. She had to admit things were tense. She didn't know when the next attack would come or what it would include, they had killed Mothra. Well, Taog had killed Mothra.
"How're you feeling?" She asked as she pushed back slightly from the entrance to join him, plus it was nicer to be out of the cold. She had slept on and off for the most part, she hadn't suffered as much as Taog had in the past day, eager to get to the springs and watch over his recovery. She didn't feel like she was missing her magic either, not noticeably and she figured she had only given Taog a little under Fir's watchful gaze. She nestled down further in her cloak, she couldn't have kept him any breakfast because it would have gone cold and stale, they'd have something for him no doubt in time.
Juniper was curious as she watched him. If he had really extinguished all his magic would he have ended up like Ren? A poor vessel with no magic and just a blank, uncaring canvas. Juniper didn't want that for any of them, death would be preferable in her mind. Her mind cast back, how ferocious Tao had looked in the fray, almost enveloped in flames on the ice and fearless. What a fool he had been and Juniper sighed out, settling until she was comfortable. She closed her eyes and just listened, evidently not asleep but content to rest her eyes for a short while before they arrived at the hot springs which would hopefully fix Taog up.
Taog watched Juniper's hand touch his. He had half a mind to pull away, but didn't. It was warm and he was tired from shivering all day. Much like the fire he'd absorbed earlier that day, Juniper's magic filtered through and filled some hunger Taog hadn't realized was there. She pulled away before Taog did. It felt like that first time, uncomfortable, but this time it was something essential. Some basic need being met, like food or water. Tao shuddered at the magic Juniper gave and he felt a little warmer, somehow, but still nowhere near to what he usually felt like. His shivers were less though.
Taog wanted to thank Juniper, say something, but he was slowly sinking back to sleep. With food and some of Juniper's magic, his body relaxed enough to rest properly. Fir shot Juniper a smile as she helped Taog get comfortable for the night.
Maybe it'd be better if they moved the fire-Fey closer to one of the fires outside, but it was really cold. Fir decided she might ask Mirriam what to do.
"Get some rest," she said to both of them.
"It shouldn't be an entire day's travel before we reach the springs."
Fir looked down at the empty bowls and then tried her best smile before leaving the carriage again. There were more mouths to feed and others to worry for. Especially now that they'd openly declared war on the Council.
When Taog woke next, from a deep and dark sleep, the sun was out and bright. They were moving again. He smelled something new on the air. Voices around them sounded chipper, as if the journey was almost at its destination. Maybe it was. Taog moved his arm, sluggishly pushing himself to sit up. Curiosity was an excellent motivator and he wanted to see where they were. He wanted to sit out in the sun and soak up the heat. Despite the sun's ample rays however, the air remained frigid. To Taog, it all felt the same. His fingers were stiff with cold, same with his limbs. His muscles ached, but he felt a little of his flame return to him. In this weather, it'd take ages to recover from spending that much magic.
They were riding down a valley now. Taog didn't recognize the trees. He made no effort of coming out from his blankets, but he did watch out of the cart, same as some of the young who also rode along with him.
He was thirsty now. And somehow he'd missed breakfast, though Taog recalled dinner last night well enough.
Springs, he'd heard Fir talk about.
Taog wiped his face. His fingers still felt numb and stiff, cold, but he wanted to move and be active. Sitting still made him feel antsy.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 22d 13h 14m 16s
Juniper didn’t really sleep, she couldn’t because she didn’t know how to help Taog. Instead she rattled off quiet stories that Drit had told her, stories about brave warriors and star struck lovers, fairytales in their own rights and she knew it was stupid but she was somewhat relieved when he fell asleep. She nestled closer to Taog to give whatever heat she could. It wasn’t like his heat and it wouldn’t replenish his lost flames but it was the best she could muster up. It was Fir who caused Junioer to move, carefully sitting up and looking the woman over as she eyed the food. They were all so worried about Taog, promising him another day and Juniper just prayed that he would make it that long.
Taog looked lost, completely. He couldn’t even feed himself and the roots in the stew left a bitter taste but not entirely unpleasant. It was better than nothing but Juniper was tired. She wasn’t as frozen at Taog, she hadn’t thrown herself into the depth like him and every inch of her wanted to scold him for being a sacrificial idiot who could have died but one look at him and she knew she could never. He had almost died trying to take out Mothra and she wasn’t about to let a next time happen. Juniper watched Fir with full eyes and only nodded. Taog needed the hot springs and Juniper couldn’t do anything to help.
“Will my magic work?” She asked Fir and she shook her head,
“He’s not injured, just cold.” For tried to assure and Juniper wasn’t so sure right that moment. Taog looked like he might collapse at any given moment.
“Can’t I share?” She asked, they had done it before. Taog didn’t have his flames to try and claim back too much. For looked skeptical and glanced to Mirriam before nodding.
Juniper looked to Taog, reaching over and touching his cold hand. It was foreign to feel then so cold and so desolate of any warmth or magic. It was like touching a doused fire and she shuddered slightly at the thought.
“A little.” Fir reminded and Juniper heeded her warning before gently imbuing some of her magic, not a lot but hopefully enough to make him comfortable. Fir watched, a mixture of concerned and bewildered, mingled with a splash of curiosity. This wasn’t normal but these two weren’t normal.
Juniper tried to dry his hair. Taog had his arms wrapped around his middle underneath the blankets, trying to still the shivers that shook his frame. He'd never been this cold before. And he'd never killed before either. Sure, his flames hurt, but when he'd been but a child, his powers hadn't been enough to actually kill someone. Tao could still feel Mothra's face underneath the palm of his hand and he clenched the fingers into a fist, just so he wouldn't have to be reminded. The scent of burning flesh would never leave his nose, Tao felt. The hot brew Fir made him drink had grown cold in his gut and he didn't feel right. His fingers hurt, so did his toes. Juniper's touch felt scalding to his sensitive skin. Hot springs? Taog wanted to ask what hot springs were, but his jaw was locked to prevent his teeth from chattering against one another.
Roles reversed, Juniper was now the one giving him warmth.
If he hadn't killed Mothra, she would've surely killed a lot of them. Including Juniper. Taog tried to control his breathing, so he wouldn't shiver so much, but it was tough and despite everything, he was weary. Juniper's voice was soft as she talked. Tao decided to focus on that instead. The cart rattled underneath them with the force of the horses pulling them ahead. Slowly, the light outside grew darker. This time however, there were fewer clouds and no snow. Instead, there was a star-riddled sky.
Taog drifted to sleep then, exhausted and still shivering to try and get warm. He wasn't as cold as he had been, but neither was the half-Fey male warm by any means.
Fir woke him, stroking his hair. Tao didn't even resist, though he wasn't used to her touch. Or anyone's touch, honestly.
"There is food, Tao," she said.
Mirriam was there too, handing the bowl over to Fir, who had climbed into the carriage with them. She offered a meal up to Juniper too.
"They're special roots. They'll help you warm up," she promised the young Earth-Fey.
Taog tried to sit up. He was hungry, but shaky and still shivering. His muscles trembled as if they had a life of their own. It'd be better once he ate, Taog believed.
Fir wanted to leave some pride intact, but Taog wouldn't be able to eat if he wanted to. His hands were too shaky. Hunched and unsteady, Tao did manage to sit up however and if eating meant having to be fed, so be it. At least the stew was hot. He was dry now too, so that was a bonus. It seemed most of the others had stopped journeying for now.
"It'll be cold tonight," Fir said.
"Just one more night, Taog," she promised. "We're almost there." He was never really talkative, but Taog seemed even more distant now, eyes dark and without their usual spark of curiosity. She wasn't sure what to make of it, but at least he ate.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 22d 14h 53m 44s
Juniper was like a shadow watching over Taog, worried. She didn't respond to his question as she just stared at him, watching him try to take in the fire but it looked like it was failing miserably. She glanced to the hot brew and reluctantly took some, it wasn't important right then. She followed them to the carriage and Juniper just followed like a lost puppy. She sat in the carriage and at least her cloak was dry, reaching to take an extra blanket as she used the material to try and dry out Taog's hair at the very least. She watched Mirriam's expression and looked to Taog. He was strong, he wouldn't just go out like an expired fire, right?
"You killed her." She said to him quietly, "You killed Mothra." She murmured, towelling his hair as gently as she could, at least. She wanted to keep him semi-conscious. Juniper had managed to change into dry clothes, mottled greens for the most part. She just wanted him to be alright, he had been so foolish to leap in like that and he could have gotten himself killed. When he felt better she was going to be sure and reprimand him, out of nothing but earnest worry.
"You'll be alright. They're going to warm you up, they said hot springs." She said to him quietly, she wasn't even sure if he was worried about himself or scared. She pressed a hand to his cheek, he was ice cold and she chewed her lip. He was colder than before and her hand felt warm against his. That was something worry about. She wanted to cry, she wanted to let go of all the emotions she had buried down but now wasn't the time. They had just murdered a Council Member, a powerful one and there was no turning back. Mothra could have killed Taog and Juniper pondered if he would yet follow her to the grave after all of this. She draped a blanket around her shoulder and lay on her side, facing him. Her body heat was nothing to brag about, it likely wouldn't replenish him but it was better than nothing, payback for last night and she let her eyes trail down his features.
"You could've gotten yourself killed." She murmured, then again a few more seconds and she would have tackled Mothra into the icy depths herself and she didn't have the powers that Taog had to fend off her attacks. She rested her arm under her head s a makeshift pillow and kept talking in a soft voice, as if it would comfort him but she realised too late it was comforting her too.
"They cheered for you, when you took down a Council member." She murmured, the cold was biting again but she didn't seem to notice as she rattled on in her gentle undertones.
Air. He needed air, quick. Taog thrashed to get to the surface of the lake and so did Mothra. They fought, but both of them finally broke the surface. Hands grabbed his cloak and pulled him onto a solid surface. Taog tried to get purchase on the ice and move more, but he couldn't grab onto anything. Mirriam was there, hauling him back from the cracking ice. Taog found it hurt to breathe, yet he couldn't quite catch enough air. Shivers made it hard to move, though he tried to help, to stand.
Mothra sank. Juniper's arrow finished the job he'd started. For a moment, it felt like she might kick up a revenge, but none of that happened. Taog coughed clear his lungs of the water he'd near enough breathed. Eritreya was there then and Taog was helpless to resist being carried. It felt like there was no energy in his limbs.
Mirriam helped him shed his cloak and some of the other water-logged items he wore before wrapping him in thick blankets. All he could do was shiver pathetically. Mothra was now dead though. Taog stared lifelessly into the fire, reaching out to it with a hand. He wanted more warmth. Needed more warmth. The flames licked at his hand, meeting him half-way, almost unnaturally considering the wind and his distance to the fire. Taog took some of the fire, but it wouldn't be enough, so he stopped before it could die out again.
"Ah-are you oh-okay?" Taog managed to stutter from between his chattering teeth. He pulled his hand back underneath the blankets. Siphoning off fire like this wasn't something he enjoyed doing. It was impure energy. His eyes were dull and Taog was tired, a bone-weary tiredness, but his shivers kept him awake. It'd been worth it. Mothra was dead. The other Council members would think twice about attacking them once they learned of her death.
Fir approached them with a hot brew.
"Small sips," she warned. "You too, Juniper," Fir said with a disapproving clack of her tongue. Barut was there then too, giving him a worried shake of his head, "we've got to talk about this self-sacrificing streak, boy," the older man chided him. Fir had to help him drink. Taog couldn't get his brain to function well enough for a reply that would satisfy Barut. His fingers started to tingle from the sudden heat and it hurt a little.
"We need to move from the lake, Barut," Tian said. Several of the carriage had already begun moving, so they could set up camp at the halfway point they'd agreed on staying at.
"Get them dry clothes. They can ride a carriage," Barut decided. Taog felt a bit detached then.
Eritreya and Mirriam had to help him dress, as if he were a babe. If he had any warm blood left to be embarrassed, he'd blush. As it was, Taog left them man-handle him into dry clothes that were ill-fitting and scratchy. He didn't even realize they'd be able to see all the ill-shaped markings on his skin; markings of a half-breed Seer. Black markings, which were usually interlaced with ember veins, but which were now black as soot.
"Yours will be dry soon, put up with it for a bit, okay?" Fir consoled him as she made room on one of the carriages for the two half-Fey and tucked him in.
"His skin is ice," Fir told Mirriam. Mirriam's expression was grave, "well, he's not hurt. He's strong. He should recover. We need to get him to the springs," the Earth-Fey said. The hot springs there would soothe him.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 23d 10h 52m 17s
Juniper tried to fire but Mothra knocked it aside like a feather and at her side was Mirriam and Eritreya. Juniper felt her heart stop as she saw Taog skidding close and knocked another arrow, desperately. He was not the man before, he was wild looking and Juniper knew fire and ice would clash horribly. The ice was giving way but Juniper didn't move, not until she saw the water swallow Taog and Mothra who was shrieking and cursing them to every Hell known. Juniper didn't hesitate, her magic was useless here on the icy waters and she could hear Mirriam behind her, the air cold in her lungs. She peered at the depths of the black waters and Mirriam tried to grab her but Juniper was quicker as she shed her cloak. Taog had shared her warmth and if there was one perk to having wings with water, now was the time to use it.
"Don't!" This time Mirriam had grabbed her by the shoulder, avoiding Juniper's outstretched wings,
"He'll drown!" Juniper cried out but there was a woosh of water and Mothra was blistered, grotesque and screeching. She was weak and pitiful.
Mirriam pulled a face and Juniper watched for Taog surfacing, he needed air and being delved in that water couldn't possibly be good for him. She remembered how the water hissed on his hands and sizzled. She reached down and grabbed his cloak, pulling with as much strength as she could to haul him up as she knocked an arrow and pointed it at Mothra, letting it loose and hitting the creature's shoulder. The ice was still breaking, soon enough the entire lake would be split and Juniper caught her footing as more ice caved away from her and Mirriam had taken to getting Taog out of the way as she watched Mothra give up, sinking down and down, lower than bones into the murky depths of the frozen lake. A rumbling started, beneath the water and Juniper steeled herself for a second attack but it didn't come. Instead a flaky paste bubbled to the surface as water splashed and sloshed around. Mothra was dead and Juniper was now soaked, as was Mirriam and Eritreya.
Juniper looked to Taog, she knew his powers had claimed the life of Mothra and she fell to her knees on the ice, everything still,
"Tao, get up. We need to go." She said to him. She couldn't warm him up, she couldn't even heal him as she looked him over for any sort of injury but Eritreya simply scooped him up and started over to the shoreline where the caravan of onlookers watched. Some were cheering and Juniper wiped water from her face as she approached, watching Mirriam put Taog under some blankets and start a fire so effortlessly and place him close to it. Juniper knew that this fight was far from over because they had murdered a Council member, the rest of the Council would be furious. More would be sent, more would be sent and in greater forces. Juniper sat by the fire and by Taog, taking her own dry blanket and draping it over him for some extra warmth.
Spread out. Taog caught on to the urgency in Barut's voice. A lake? A frozen lake. They were crossing it? Both his and Juniper's horses were nervous. Taog tried to exude confidence to the animal, but that attempt was thwarted with the arrival of Mothra. Barut's shout resonated with the group. He could see Eritreya and Tian reach for their bows, could see Fir scamper off to protect the young. This time, more of the warriors were prepared. Mirriam turned, eyes wild and angry. They would not be hassled with a second time. Taog had trouble reining in his horse, but the confidence and bravery of his teachers gave him energy.
A sonic boom spooked his horse. Taog tried to contol the animal, but it wanted to rush off and they fought for control on top of the ice. When Juniper's horse reared, so did his and Taog tried to jump off, rolling to a stop on the slippery ice. He crouched low to find his balance and brought out his pole. Eritreya's arrows went wide, much to Mothra's delight.
It occured to Taog that she was an air elemental. She'd stirred the water to break the ice. Water started to make his stance an unsteady one.
Tao tried to make his magic as little as possible. It'd been fun and games melting the snow, but melting the floor they were stood on was not a good idea. The water was dark and cold underneath the cracking ice.
Steam rose from his feet and Taog realized he could stand still even less so than Juniper. Mothra's focus was Juniper now, who had called her out. Confident in her powers and abilities, Mothra remained still before Juniper.
Taog moved. He ran across the ice. Mothra caught sight of him, turning with that wicked grin on her face. Eritreya shot another arrow. Mothra raised her hand to push the arrow aside with the ease of a fly being swatted from the air. Taog threw his pole, which launched from his hand like a flaming spear. Overzealous, Mothra deflected that too, leaving her open to be ploughed into. Taog didn't just knock her over. Where he'd made his magic as little as possible, now he made it as furious as he could.
Flame danced around him, pulled at his hair, clothes and swirled around his feet on the ice like an dense hot aura, caught on Mothra's wings, clothes and hair. Taog's eyes had gone from their usual amber hues to the colour of the sun. The ice beneath them cracked and sagged. Water spilled across his legs, like icy tentacles as the ice started to give, but Taog didn't relent. Steam burst from his form as they both sagged through the ice into the boiling water. It was them or her.
Taog didn't think. He felt Mothra's magic try to take hold as water enveloped them, but it was like fuel to his fire and then there was a sudden rush of ice trying to rob him of all warmth. Tao fought it, the ice cold water churning at the sudden heat. Neither he nor Mothra were prepared for it. She even less so. Taog could see the heated water blister her skin and he could only hope Juniper hadn't sank into the water with them.
He felt Mothra's arms try to wrestle free. Her spidery fingers struggled to grab around his neck. Tao started to run out of magic and air both. He let go and with the last of his magic, grabbed onto Mothra's face and boiled the skin off. Who was she to promise them perfection anyway?
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 23d 11h 41m 5s
Juniper frowned a little, yeah nowhere warm and she sighed a little before finishing soup. She started to bundle up and prepare her supplies for the day of travelling ahead. She helped out as best she could but it was difficult to summon up much magic. This was a new feeling because she knew she could pick up on traces beneath the frost but it was just slow and sluggish. She looked to Taog as she mounted her horse and the caravan of wagons set off. She hunkered down and watched the sights go by. Everything was so quiet in the snow and she was silent too, as if scared to speak in case they were discovered and she watched the road.
"Up here. Spread out." Barut called and Juniper pondered on why as she watched wagons file out neatly. She turned her gaze forwards to see a massive frozen lake before them.
"Don't bunch up." Barut muttered as he set out first and Juniper urged her horse on in the small space she had to herself, she went slowly, as best she could.
Her horse was nervous and her fingers clutched the reigns tightly. She looked up when she caught a glimpse of something. Wings, familiar ones fluttered down and she furrowed her brow.
"Get the wagons off the ice!" Barut called and Juniper swallowed. Mothra was back, and healed. Juniper knew this was bad and they were stuck in a precarious situation. Mothra stared, looking feral and Juniper looked to see the wagons trying to verge off of the ice, horses nickering worriedly and Juniper tried to knock an arrow, utterly futile in effort as Mothra clenched her fist and it was like a sonic boom and then silence. Juniper settled her horse and for a moment, she thought that Mothra's spell had gone wrong. Juniper heard cracking, loud cracking and she looked down at the ice, watching it splinter and she realised Barut's fear. Cold, icy water and she looked to the others before trying to see where Mothra had vanished to. This was straight up genocide and Juniper tried to steady her horse but it wanted to get to the safety and she was panicking.
Carriages tried to move, slowly and Juniper could hear Barut screeching about staying spread out as he paced the line and Juniper clung to her horse as she paused to make sure the carriages were making it safely across. Mothra was laughing somewhere but she couldn't quite see her. Juniper could feel her heart hammering in her ears as she did her best not to panic. Her horse reared and Juniper was doing her best to try and wield a bow and hold on but the lost balance and fell from the hold, scampering to her feet as best she could, cloak billowing around her as she watched her horse follow one of the carriages. Juniper had forgotten the cold, she had forgotten any sense of caution as she looked around to see the ice starting to crack more, pools of water bubbling up and it was if it was chasing down the caravans, a wild monster.
"Show yourself!" Juniper said as she looked to see Mothra standing brazenly in the open.
Oh, now she was grateful, was she? Taog merely shook his head, as if saying he'd known all along that it would've been better if they shared his warmth. It wasn't as if he could help exuding the heat that he did. Why not profit from that fact? It seemed more had noticed his absence. Fir stirred, and the young she'd held close. Taog wondered whether the young was hers, but dismissed the thought. Fir was human and too old to have one at that age. Barut approached them with soup.
Tao gratefully took his portion and didn't bother waiting for talking to finish before starting in on his food. Another day or two was all that was left? He wondered where they would end up, but other than vague phrases such as 'new location', where 'there were a few others', Barut gave few clues. Taog figured it would be better to know little. That way, they couldn't accidentally betray anything.
"Why are they wary?" Taog asked the question Juniper didn't.
"You'll find out in time, young Taog," Barut said and with that, left them be. Tao sighed. 'Sort of' wasn't exactly informative.
"It doesn't sound like we're going anywhere warm," he put out there. Mountains of snow, were all they'd see. Taog finished his soup in record time and checked their gear. Some snow had fluttered down on them and the water he'd carried had frozen. The wine was alright though, funnily enough.
Tao shook the bedroll and the saddle free from the snow and then sought out where his horse had gone for the night. He found them nibbling on roots, offered by a kind hand. Taog brushed his hand by his horse's nose and greeted the animal. It didn't seem the cold bothered the horse too much, but Taog figured it'd be more comfortable with the saddle on. Maybe he ought to put his blanket underneath, to keep the horse warm. Their fur didn't seem very suitable for this type of weather, but then, he didn't think Fey were either yet here they were. Taog too care preparing his horse for the day's journey and then watched as the others prepared too, helping them where possible. A lot of snow had fallen. It melted into water whenever he got too close or stuck around too long. His gloves were soaked when they left and Tao debated taking them off entirely. Who on the mountain would shun a half-Fey? Surely they had different concerns out here?
The trees thinned as they ploughed on.
His breath came in long, smoky puffs which lingered on the gentle breeze. A lot of the young were cold, he could tell. They'd played with the snow before, but quickly tired of their games because of the cold. Taog cast a concerned look at Juniper. Was she cold too? Frozen ground might be just as good as rock. Was it different for the Earth-touched half-Fey up here? Maybe Barut was so sure because of the frost. It felt like much of the other magic's stilled here.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 23d 13h 13m 16s
Taog's close proximity caught her off guard, even more so because the male half-fey had taken it upon himself which was unusual. Juniper didn't read into but was quiet as she watched him get comfortable. He was warm, it was radiating from him and she hunkered down in the blankets. She wasn't exactly helping him in this deal given she was cold and couldn't offer much by means of her own comfort to him but with the added warmth, it was easy to just give in to the pull of sleep. Juniper didn't wake until Taog left and her personal heat lamp left. She squinted and sat up, lamenting the loss of the other body immediately. There was something smelling nice and she pushed herself up, careful not to awaken any of the youngsters that were still sleeping soundly. She ran a hand over her face and clambered out of the carriage after fixing on her cloak.
"Woah." She murmured at the pristine blanket of white and she looked to Taog with a smile. It was cold, sure but the wind had died down and it was nicer. It was almost enjoyable and she looked to Taog,
"Thanks." She said, gesturing to the carriage because she was sure she wouldn't have gotten a decent night of sleep without his added warmth. She looked up as Barut approached with soup,
"This'll keep you both warm. Another day or two of riding and we should be there." Barut explained and Juniper took the bowl, keeping her fingers warm.
"Where is 'there'?" She asked quietly, half wary of the answer.
"New location, there are a few others and the Council will be wary to come this far north." Barut responded and Juniper wondered why. She didn't think the weather mattered to the beings on the Council but hopefully they would be able to get off the road in the next day or so.
"Will it get colder?" She asked Barut and he just shrugged,
"Hopefully the wind will stay down." He remarked before taking some soup in for the younglings and Juniper looked to Taog as she tried some soup. It was hot and she sat on the edge of the carriage, legs dangling.
"Well, at least we know where we are going, sort of." She murmured and drank some more soup. Juniper fixed some of her hair and she didn't feel as cold as she had last night. She looked to Taog, he looked a stark contrast to the white snow, bright amber eyes and dark features set against the white of the snow.
Why hadn't she attacked? Did Mothra believe she could've persuaded them to side with her? If they did, Mothra could've really hurt Barut and Haven's community. Taog glanced over at Fir, who was tucking in the youngsters now. If Juniper had sided with Mothra, that would've been enough. Tao didn't know Mothra's reasoning, but also wondered whether a creature like that would have one that they could understand.
Keep it, Juniper said. Taog rolled his eyes. Stubborn Fey.
Taog had realized that too. The next encounter they'd have with Mothra would have to be one in which she died. Or in which they lost to Mothra. Tao would be happy to see Mothra gone, that much was for sure. Juniper's wish seemed so petty and distant now. A colourful and bright dream, compared with the black and white cold they faced now. Taog watched Juniper fiddle and sighed out, laying down next to her so they could share his blanket. Honestly, Taog didn't think he needed it right then, but the night seemed like it would cool even further. He rested on one elbow, looking at Juniper. She was a strange creature, that much was for sure.
"Rest," Taog said, and laid down. He turned his back towards Juniper, but was close enough she could profit from his naturally exuding warmth even at this distance. He was facing Fir, so it happened. A young was between them, resting close against Fir, already asleep.
Taog didn't remain awake for very long. Sleep washed over him like the river lapping at its shore. It was early when Taog woke to a noise he didn't recognize. Crackling?
Amber eyes stared out. It was bright outside now.
Snow lay piled on the floor, on the tarps protecting the carriages and only a few patches were clear still. Branches were heavy with a layer of snow, weighed down. Some were moving, aiding the animals in finding food, stirring the flames. Taog realized it was the crunching of snow compacting underneath people's feet that made the weird noise. He sat up slowly, not wanting to stir any who still slept. Their carriage was still pretty quiet. The young had packed up tightly together to remain warm.
Tao noticed some of the horses carried blankets on their backs now. He smelled food being prepared; soup, maybe? He was still somewhat tired, but not cold. The sun looked alluring. Taog carefully extracted himself from his cocoon and stepped out. It wasn't a thick layer of snow, he learned quickly. It melted underneath his feet almost instantly and Taog left behind puddles of water instead. The ground seemed to have absorbed some of the snow after all. It wasn't as thick there as it was on the trees. Hunger pulled him to one of the fires and Taog crouched down to wait his turn nearby.
Everything smelled fresh. Sounds seemed dampened. Taog was surprised by how bright everything was now that snow was everywhere. They would stand out, Tao realized. Them and their caravan. And they'd leave a trail, same as the animals they hunted.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 24d 10h 23m 7s
Juniper watched Taog, he looked alright. He certainly seemed better than yesterday and she listened to him as he spoke.
"More people, like us. Like the others." She said quietly and figured maybe that was the end goal, to raise a proper and formidable force that could deal with the Council and the Great One. A battle seemed terrifying and no way did Juniper ever feel ready for such a thing. Juniper gave a nod at his question of whether she was cold, she was very cold but the blanket was helping. She should have heeded Taog's advice and not stayed out for those extra few moments. Without the wind, she figured it wouldn't be as cold but it was a biting breeze.
"Yeah." Juniper said as she watched him, knowing full well Mothra would want some sort of vengeance. She wasn't about to let two younglings get away with harming her so obviously, it was likely humiliating and Juniper and Taog had seen her true form, a twisted and bent creature not of this plain.
"I think we irritated her." She pointed out, "Why didn't she attack us when she had the chance?" She murmured quietly and knew Mothra was powerful so why hadn't she just finished them off then and there, she could have. Maybe it had been a test of strength and Juniper wasn't sure if they had the powers to keep Mothra at bay if she really did attempt a proper attack. Mothra alone? Maybe, but she wouldn't come without backup.
"Huh? No, you keep it. You'll freeze without it, Tao." She said to him. She wasn't about to take his things and leave him to fend for himself in the cold, flames or not. He could regret it if the weather turned any colder and she closed her eyes.
"If she comes back, we'll have to kill her I think." There wouldn't be a choice, it would them or Mothra. Juniper doubted the Council was just going to leave them alone after this.
"I really did want pretty wings, seems silly now." She murmured as she slid down so she was lying on her back and looking at the plain canvas of the carriage. She sighed out and fiddled absently with the blanket, packing it down where she could to get rid of any gaps that would let the cold air in. She wasn't used to the cold and back at the Vale they had plenty of shelters and fires that the elders of the village could enchant. She put her hands behind her head and used them as a makeshift pillow, green eyes lost in thought as she watched her breath spread in the air above her.
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